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September 10, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-09-10

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4A - Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

L 4e MIC41,60an 4


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 views ofttheir authors.
A canne ap proach
Amethyst Initiative needed to confront binge drinking
Based on her opposition to Anheuser-Busch's "Fan Cans," it
would seem like President Mary Sue Coleman is concerned
about binge drinking. After the University sent a letter
objecting to the marketing ploy - which would produce beer cans
in blue and yellow and distribute them in the Ann Arbor area - the
beer company agreed not to sell them on campus. But no matter
how justified, Coleman's opposition to the Fan Cans is hypocritical.
If she wants to show real leadership on the issue of binge drinking,
she will reverse her position on the Amethyst Initiative - a sensible
petition that asks Congress to examine the issue of the drinking age

- and, at long last, sign it.
As part of a marketing scheme to appeal
to the college-aged beer drinker, Anheuser-
Busch decided to produce Bud Light cans
decorated with the colors of 27 targeted
universities - the University of Michigan
among them. After the University sent a
complaint to Anheuser-Busch alleging that
such a ploy would increase the prevalence
of binge drinking on campus, the company
agreed not to sell the beer in the Univer-
sity community. But the University went
further, insisting in another letter that the
University community is not limited to its
campus, and that Anheuser-Busch should
not sell the Fan Cans anywhere in the state
of Michigan.
Such insistence should indicate that the
University administration is taking the
problem of binge drinking seriously. But
Coleman's absolute refusal tosign the Ame-
thyst Initiative is sending mixed messages.
It's hard to imagine that the University
is really interested in dealing with binge
drinking when reevaluating the drinking
age isn't even on the table.
The Amethyst Initiative, introduced in
July 2008 and signed by 135 college presi-
dents, does not call for the drinking age to
be lowered. It simply asks Congress to reex-
amine the issue and determine whether
the current drinking age of 21 is a success-

ful policy. This is a legitimate question -
since the drinking age was changed to 21 in
1984 under the National Minimum Drink-
ing Age Act, there has been an increase in
deaths and accidents related to underage
and binge drinking.
Generating discussion about the respon-
sible age for drinking and its connection to
binge drinkingshould never be discouraged.
And considering Coleman's background as
a researcher, it's especially troubling that
she would not agree with an initiative that
only asks for more study to be done on the
relationship between binge drinking and
the current drinking age. Her absolute
rejection of the Amethyst Initiative shows
not only that she stands steadfastly behind
a drinking age that may be unhealthy, but
also that her support for researching new
ideas and possibilities is dishonest.
Taken in stride, the University's strong
reaction to Anheuser-Busch's Fan Cans is
hardly demonstrative of a serious commit-
ment to reducing binge drinking. The Ame-
thyst Initiative is an attempt to deal with
one of the biggest issues on college cam-
puses. Until Coleman's signature is among
the many who have already expressed sup-
port for the initiative, any expressed inter-
est in preventing binge drinking can hardly
be taken seriously.

I am not the first president to take up this cause,
but I am determined to be the last."
- President Barack Obama, referring to his plan to reform
health care, in a speech delivered last night to Congress.
el l atlking bell. I4
H ma talk ngabull st - then so mmie lin..rWe prtanise s
('secer-hutcnservaive j and Iewke aiona ois our latya.
takn ott emakngeeg m cool f
un of my fr end here becaus wear sn asses.Moo
taw xw w0
The new news
wo and a half years ago, I sat Internet capability, giving owners While my family resides right
at my kitchen table in tears the power of online news at their outside Washington D.C., I consider
after receiving the position fingertips. If not through a handheld myself a dual member of both the
of Online Fea- device, the Internet can be accessed Washington and Ann Arbor commu-
ture Editor of my through home computers, laptops, or nities, and have washingtonpost.com,
high school news- at any of the campus libraries. annarbor.com and michigandaily.
paper. Though it Aside from the convenience of combookmarked on my computer - a
may sound pres- online papers, the switch to the Web convenience made possible by online
tigious, my high follows ournation's increasinglyenvi-
school paper was ronmentally conscious path. The 21st
as highly regarded century is far more a world of Google
as the Michigan than Gutenberg, and it's becoming W hy Ive traded in
football team is to clear that print papers are becoming .
the University, and LEAH exceedingly less timely. Discontinu- print papers for my
the Editor in Chief POTKIN ing the print version saves not only
position rivaled time and money, but paper. BlackBerry
star athletes and Not to mention, navigating an
head cheerleaders in status. Need- online paper takes far less energy
less to say, any online position was than the strenuous maneuvering of
not regarded quite as highly. But to meticulously folded print sections papers only.
my surprise, this position I loathed that crinkle with each movement. I Even the production side of news-
receiving now looks better on a rdsu- understand that this familiar crin- papers may have something to gain
me than its print-version sister I so kling is what loyal subscribers will from going online. I understand
naively coveted. miss, but in retrospect, it's just a there is no perfect substitute for face-
It now seems only appropriate, matter of adjustment that will only to-face brainstorming and communi-
that the town I chose to spend my come in time. Our nation made the cation, but with the development of
college years in is the first large city switch from VCR to DVD, snail mail technologies such as video chat and
to abolish its own local print newspa- to e-mail, and now print papers to editing programs that show correc-
per. Ina recent article in Time Maga- online papers. tions in the margins, the process is
zine, owners of the former Ann Arbor University students check their subject to change.
News said they believe they can turn grades online on CTools, stay con- I could sit here and continue to
the paper into awebpublicationwhile nected through Wolverine access babble about all the pros and cons
still generating a profit and pleasing and are usually instructed to contact of online papers, as there are clearly
the news-hungry public. Contrary to their professors via e-mail. Just this many,.butathe fact that this article is
what my crying-at-the-kitchen-table week, one of my professors specifical- likely posted online and being read
self would have believed at the time, ly asked students to exchange e-mail off a computer screen should speak
I now agree entirely. addresses rather than phone num- for itself. In fact, I never thought I'd
Some inevitably cringe at the bers in the case they need to contact say this, but if this article weren't
thought of losing their beloved morn- a classmate for missed lecture notes posted online, I would be quite disap-
ing coffee and paper-browsing ritual. - something past generations would pointed.
But two or three generations down not understand. Even when they're So pick up your coffee, grab your
the road, reminiscing about this ritu- not physically on campus, students BlackBerry and kindly recycle any old
al will compare to the baby boomer's can buy football tickets online, view newspapers - they're so last century.
talk of oversized car phones before class syllabuses at all times, and stay
the cell phone craze began. Speak- up to date with what's going on in - Leah Potkin can be reached
ing of cell phones, many now have their beloved Ann Arbor. at lpokin@mich.edu.
The Daily is looking for a diverse group of strong, informed writers to be columnists
during the fall semester. Columnists write 750 words
on a topic of their choice every other week.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca, Brian Flaherty,
Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
l the legislators not tax system, our scholarships could be in safe
hands. Instead, students and families are left
ebudget-c utte s with more debt and fewer opportunities to fur-
ther education. Remember this when you hear
politicians talk about "saving" our Promise


TO THE DAILY: Scholarships,a
Before moving in, I had to empty most of my to do so.
checking accountto pay the University what my
Promise Scholarship did not. The program is on Alex Franz
Lansing's chopping block, and families all over LSA junior
the state are scrambling to make up for this
empty promise. I'm angry, like most students, Lapin
but my anger isn't blindly directed at the bud- is
get-cutters. It's the legislators who made these1 o
empty promises that deserve our wrath. IgJoraec
The Promise Scholarship debuted when I
graduated high school in 2007, during the 2008 TO THE DAIL
fiscal year. That year, the state government had I found myse
a $605 million deficit. Rather than focus on Lapin's column
long-term corrections, governor Jennifer Gra- seurs, 9/8/09).
nholm proposed only $108 million in spending philistine," or
cuts. At the same time, Granholm wanted $66 film, and goes
million in university payments delayed - an wrong with bei
accounting trick pushing expenses off of one It goes witht
book and onto another. essential to mo
That same year, the Michigan Business Tax ing that culturE
debuted, giving breaks to the collapsing auto- Any univers
motive industry while making service firms edge and we s
pay more. After small businesses protested, is something t
the legislature removed the service hike - and paying enough
replaced it with a 22 percent surcharge on all anybody who
taxable companies. The MBT has amplified the molecular biol
volatility of government revenues, making the say I know eve
budget process even more difficult. doesn't mean I
In fiscal year 2009, the budget deficit grew to Willful ign
an astounding $L75 billion, pushing the state's should be toler
credit rating down further. This year, the deficit by us as a uni
reaches $1.3 billion - and the state government refuses to watt
is just now getting around to cutting horse rac- it's in black-an
ing programs. ish - that's not
Our legislators and governor made a prom- We should rect
ise to students and they have yet to take action
toward keeping it. If painful-but-necessary David Kinzer
cuts had been made earlier, alongside a fair LSA junior

as if this was their first chance
wrong - cultural
e is not bliss
elf generally repelled by Andrew
n (Of philistine and film connois-
Lapin talks about the "proud
someone willfully ignorant of
on to say that there's nothing
ing one.
out saying that film is an art form
dern culture, and Lapin is argu-
al ignorance is A-OK.
ity's mission is to spread knowl-
hould all agree that knowledge
o be desired. After all - we're
money in pursuit of it. I respect
knows a lot about cars, about
ogy or about film. Though I can't
rything about these subjects, it
shouldn't want to know more.
orance isn't something that
ated - not by the Daily and not
versity. If someone irrationally
ch Wild Strawberries - because
d-white or because it's in Swed-
a prerogative, that's just stupid.
ognize it as such.

Keep smoking on campus

to hard to disagree with the
fact that smoking cigarettes
is an injurious and potentially
annoying habit.
State legislators are
negotiating a ban
on indoor smoking
in most Michigan
businesses in an
effort to protect the
health of employ-
ees and patrons
from the hazards
associated with HARSHA
secondhand smok-
ing. This is thought
by many to be valid
and sensible leg-
islation. But the University's ban on
smoking throughout campus - set to
take effect in July of 2011 - cannot be
described as such.
The innumerable health risks of
cigarette smoke are well known. Peo-
ple who smoke cigarettes, especially
University students, should be aware
of the consequences. A smoking ban
doesn't introduce any new informa-
tion that may encourage an individual
to not start or stop smoking. Chiding
smokers serves no practical purpose
other than to annoy the target.
The main cited reason for the
University's smoking ban is decreas-
ing exposure to secondhand smoke.
Outdoor secondhand smoke is not
completely safe: exposure to it while
sitting next to a smoker for extended
periods of time is harmful. But cam-
pus is not a stagnant location. Many
people walk to class while smoking or
take smoke breaks outside of univer-
sity buildings. So while it's true that

smoke may be inhaled while entering
a building, it's not a health risk - it's
simply an irritation.
Banning a habit for merely being
irritating would be discriminatory,
which sets an intolerable and unfair
precedent. Smoking has an excessive-
ly negative stigma in our society in
comparison to other equally bad and
disgusting behaviors. Obesity has
very similar health risks to smoking:
heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Still, following this logic, the criti-
cism received by an overweight per-
son eating a rich dessert is not even
comparable to the scolding often ini-
tiated by lighting a cigarette. But a
policy has not been suggested to limit
food types and intake of people in the
University dining halls. People can
eat what they want, and some choose
five slices of pizza and three cookies.,
Following the logic of the smoking
ban, wouldn't limitations on eating
habits improve the health of the over-
all campus? Why has this never been
proposed? Because such a policy,
were it suggested, would be called
laughable, ludicrous and would be
met with an uproar of protest from
Such outrage would not be with-
out good reason. A food intake policy
would greatly impinge on the per-
sonal liberty of both the students
and employees of the University and
violate the principles upon which the
United States was founded. A smok-
ing ban would have a similar effect.
A smoking ban sets a dangerous
precedent for what may follow. That
means standing and talking loudly
on a cell phone in a crowd of people

could be banned because it disrupts
the atmosphere on campus. In reality,
professors may enforce no cell-phone
policies in their classroom since
banter on the phone interferes with
learning, but a cell phone policy could
not be implemented campus-wide
since it's a public area. This makes
any ban on a legal and personal activ-
ity an egregious violation of students'
rights. As a taxpayer-funded institu-
tion, the University should be an all-
inclusive environment. The ban on
smoking contradicts this principle.


A smoking ban is
unhealthy for
students' rights.
But even aside from the question of
fairness, the ban would be difficult to
enforce and its effectiveness is doubt-
ful. There is no proposed fine for ban-,
ning smoking on campus,leaving very
little incentive to follow the policy.
This makes having such a policy on
the books even moire ridiculous.
All people have their flaws and
failings: smoking is just one of these
flaws. The President of the United
States even admits to smoking the
occasional cigarette as he battles his
addiction. Regardless, an annoying
habit should not be banned for minor
- Harsha Panduranga can be
reached at harshap@umich.edu.

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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
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