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November 16, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-11-16

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4A - Monday, November 16, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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 of their authors.


A f LW U T j
Smoking andif studen ts' rights


Abusing Bridge Cards
Legislators should end student fraud in welfare program
n these hard economic times, state legislators have had to
make tough choices on howe to save money. In many cases,
they have made mistakes like the decision tocut the Mich-
igan Promise Scholarship, which hurts thousands of students who
are trying to pay for college. But it's also important to acknowledge
the fact that some college students are hurting the state by unfairly
taking advantage of a welfare program called the Michigan Bridge
Card. This program is intended for people who are struggling to
make ends meet. The state should end the widespread fraud tak-
ing place under the program, and students, for their part, shouldn't
take money they don't need.
The Michigan Bridge Card is part of the the Bridge Card program so that only those
Electronic Benefit System, a program that who are truly struggling can apply for it.
allows the state to provide direct finan- But just because it's easy to cheat the
cial assistance to citizens who qualify system doesn't mean college students
for it. The card provides people who are should. Students who didn't need the
struggling to make ends meet with $200 money but went for it anyway just because
a month to help pay for groceries. Accord- they knew they would qualify are behav-
ing to the Detroit Free Press, an estimated ing irresponsibly. The Bridge Card should
1.2 million Michigan residents were issued not be viewed as no-strings-attached free
cards as of December 2008. cash. Students should be demonstrating
The problem is that the program lacks that they are mature; responsible adults
oversight mechanisms to prevent recipi- who are ready to make their own decisions
ents from buying things other than food, - not childishly waiting to cash in on wel-
leaving enforcement up to individual fare schemes. Behaving in such a manner is
stores. In 2008, it was estimated that morally wrong.
Bridge Card fraud amounted to more than The state has a responsibility to take care
$300 million each year. And as the State of those who have fallen on hard times,
News reported in September, some of this and welfare programs are a necessary way
is due to the actions of college students, of helping the least fortunate. But the sad
who exploit loopholes to qualify for the reality is that when welfare programs are
card and then make unauthorized pur- taken advantage of, the truly needy are the
chases. ones who suffer. Legislators could use the
It's obvious that the program needs a widespread greed of certain college stu-
system for more fairly determining the dents as an excuse to reduce the program
eligibility o Bridge.CardI applicant ,_Bytat it entrely,.Mkhiga'sorstwill
declaring dependency status and not spec- be the ones who come away harmed, all
ifying work-study income, financial aid because certain people couldn't say no to
or scholarships, many students who don't money they didn't need.
need the money can qualify. And due to Some Republicans in the state House of
poor enforcement, they can use the money Representatives are calling for an audit
to buy things other than food. Misused, of the program. The government should
the Bridge Card becomes a liability, cost- move to tighten eligibility and cut down on
ing the state more than $25 million a year. luxury purchases while making absolutely
Michigan already has difficulty affording certain not to reduce the accessibility of
the programs it needs. The state must fix this program to those who need it.
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, William, Butler, Ben Caleca, Michelle DeWitt,
Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer,
Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith

Last week, the University held
its first public forum to dis-
cuss implementation of the
campuswide smok-
ing ban. While not -
really answering
questions like,
"Whose idea was
the smoking ban?",
the University
clarified what will
happen to stu-
dents who violate
the ban. No tickets ROBERT
will be issued - SOAVE
instead, smokers
will be urged to
attend workshops
to curtail their offensive behavior. As
of July 2011, the University will be, in
the words of School of Public Health
Dean Ken Warner, quitting smoking
"cold turkey."
Why wait two years? The admin-
istration claims it wants to take this
time to gather input from students
and faculty. That, of course, makes
sense, since it didn't bother to inform
the Michigan Student Assembly or the
Senate Advisory Committee on Uni-
versity Affairs until the day before the
policy was announced last spring. But
I find myself wondering if the Univer-
sity set a date so far in the future in
order to minimize complaints from
students, most of whom will graduate
before being affected by the ban.
Whether intentional or not, this
tactic maybe working.I'veheard some
people who aren't thrilled with the
idea of a ban say that they don't care
too much because it won't ever affect
them. But regardless of how many stu-
dents this will impact, all members of
the campus community have an obli-
gation to voice their opposition to an
unfair policy that sets a dangerous
precedent against students' rights.
I'm not a smoker, and never have
been. But the ban isn't just a concern
for smokers. The issue at hand isn't
even public health. If it were, this issue

would already be settled, since out-
door smoking is neither widespread
nor particularly harmful to non-
smokers. While I can see the merits'
of banning smoking inside University
buildings (which is already in effect)
and preventing smoking directly out-
side building entrances and windows,
outdoor smoking only poses health
risks to the smokers themselves. The
University, then, isn't attempting to
improve public health - it's seeking to
regulate the health of individual peo-
ple, the smokers themselves.
Such a move raises troubling ques-
tions about how far the University will
go to regulate health on an individual
level. Can you imagine the University
putting limits on how many desserts
you can eat in residence halls? Requir-
ing you to visit the CCRB a couple
times a week? Measuring your waist
and forcing you to diet if you weigh in
at an unhealthy size?
I know some people hate this "slip-
pery slope" argument. But this isn't a
joke - take a look at Japan. According
to The New York Times, the Japanese
government passed a law last year that
required companies and local govern-
ments to pay fines for employing over-
weight people who fail to slim down.
Blatantly absurd policies like this one
don't appear on their own: They come
about after society has acclimated to
policies that are less absurd. And those
policies were preceded by ones that
were only slightly absurd. The "slip-
pery slope" exists.
Just as Japan's policy discourages
companies from hiring overweight
people, the University's smoking ban
will eventually turn away prospective
students who are smokers. That's a
shame, since smokers disproportion-
ately fall into lower income groups.
The ban broadcasts the message that
.these students aren't good enough
for the University unless they can
quit smoking. Dissuading such peo-
ple because their habit isn't favorably
regarded by the administration direct-

ly contradicts the role of an institution
of higher learning. Instead, the Uni-
versity should welcome students of
all different beliefs, backgrounds and
habits. Smokers should feel included
in a tolerant, freethinking campus,
without being ostracized or forced to
'U' can't regulate
health on an
individual level.
Even if you accept the University's
argument that it wants to bring down
health care costs, I questionhowmuch
money will be saved by banning an
activity that only about 14 percent of
employees and 16 percent of students
engage in. Keep in mind that smokers
won't be forced to quit, they just won't
be able to smoke on campus. So instead
of significantly reducing health care
costs, all this ban will do is further
inconvenience and alienate smokers.
The University is free to promote
public health all it wants by offering
programs to assist smokers who want
to make the choice to quit. It can hand
out pamphlets on the risks of smoking.
It can offer discounted smokingcessa-
tion products, as it plans to under the
ban. Buttheactivityitselfmustremain
a right of all students on campus.
I urge everyone to attend the next
forum, which will take place at 5 p.m.
on Nov. 19 in the Walgreen Center's
Stamps Auditorium on North Cam-
pus. Students and faculty must make
it clear to the administration we aren't
comfortable on a campus that tram-
ples the rights of individuals so easily.
- Robert Soave is the Daily's
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at rsoave@umich.edu.

Business climate change


Don't blame the coaches for
the football team's losses

team while the
responsibility t
pletely differen
The fault li'

TO THE DAILY: Not for hirin
It's easy to get angry with Michigan football coach. He beat
coach Rich Rodriguez about what looks to be a the less-than-s
second losing season in a row, and it's easy to Virginia. The f
be displeased with Michigan Defensive Coor- plan to strip
dinatorGregRobinson and a defense that is one existing talent
of the worst this program has ever seen. But to ensuring your
lay all the blame on them is naive. A number enough, it's no
of factors combined to create the situation the in the Big Ten,i
Michigan football program is in today. gram wasn't in
Think back to the Michigan football team tion to the sp:
after the win against Florida in the Capital responsibility t
One Bowl, which sent Lloyd Carr into retire- So, where a:
ment. Michigan was going to lose a lot of tal- talent. Tate For
ent - Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Jake Long and able in the poc
others were off to the NFL. However, the team much quicker, t
was still in good shape. We had one of the best The offensive 1
rising quarterbacks in the country in Ryan tionable, butv
Mallett, and Mario Manningham would have talented startir
been a key player if he stayed another year. All We have more
we needed to do to compete was upgrade our in the run gam
offensive line. the Big Ten. Th
on the other side of the ball, the back seven puts up a fairl
was depleted. It's the main reason we got each game.
destroyed by Oregon and dropped the open- on defense,'
er to Appalachian State. We had a very solid part, it's not sc
D-Line, though, more than enough to anchor lack of quality,
even a championship-caliber unit. ented lineback(
Enter the coaching change. Manningham of facing Big7
runs to the NFL, Mallett transfers, and sud- to support Wa
denly, we need skilled offensive players and should be the b
can't focus recruitment on the defensive back ing season.
seven. With half of a recruitment year, it was If we don't
going to be ugly anyway. We weren't going to perhaps the n
get enough talent to solve all our problems, but he or she may 1
it still didn't need to be as ugly as last season. direction. How
This isn't Rich Rodriguez's fault. Everyone away from our
knew Rich Rodriguez would need a different Rodriguez and
player base to build the new offense. He came and the problen
into Michigan with a stock of offensive talent be attributed to
he couldn't use, and very little defensive talent.
It also isn't Lloyd Carr's fault. What was left Jared Karlow
of Michigan's offense was plenty to carry a LSA senior

defense progressed. He had no
to prepare the team for a com-
t offense before his retirement.
es with Athletic Director Bill
g Rich Rodriguez - he's a good
big-name BCS contenders with
mighty recruiting draw of West
fault was the timing. You can't
away your offense when your
is going to be instrumental in
team is competitive. Simply
t that the spread doesn't work
it's simply that the football pro-
a position to make the transi-
read, and it was Bill Martin's
o see that.
re we now? We have offensive
rcier needs to get more comfort-
ket and learn to get the ball out
but then again, he's a freshman.
line play has been highly ques-
when you lose your extremely
ng center, that tends to happen.
depth at receiver positions and
se than almost any program in
e offense has sputtered but still
y reasonable number of points
we need to recruit. For the most
heme that's messed us up, it's a
consistent play. Some truly tal-
ers, a large nose tackle capable
Ten interior linemen, a corner
arren and another solid safety
iggest priorities of this recruit-
get ten wins next season, then
ew athletic director, whoever
be, may need to look in another
wever, for now, keep the blame
r coaches. Greg Robinson, Rich
Lloyd Carr all performed well,
ms our team has now really can't
o their actions.

f you walked through the Diag on
Wednesday afternoon, you might
have seen an odd collection of
movers andshakers.
In attendance were
a famous climate l
change expert pre-
viously featured on
the Colbert Report,
Ann Arbor mayor"
John Hieftje, envi-
ronmental activists A
clad in green hard
hats and a guitarist BRIAN
singing his environ- FLAHERTY
mental affections
over some beefy
riffs. The scene was
organized with the support of 350.org,
an international grassroots environ-
mental-action organization focused on
what is perhaps the greatest challenge
facing our generation - to sustain the
environment by keeping carbon diox-
ide levels in the atmosphere below 350
parts per million.
There are three important things
about the number 350. The first is that
peer-reviewed science says a planet
with more than 350 parts per million
carbon dioxide in its atmosphere isn't
compatible with the environment that
allowed life on Earth to evolve. To
cross that line for any extended period
of time will almost certainly pose a
serious threat to the survival and live-
lihoods of organisms across the planet,
including people. The second thing to
know iswe've already passed that: C02
levels are roughly 390 ppm. Third, get-
ting back to 350 ppm is going to be a
tremendous challenge that will require
dramatic economic changes to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.
A lot of people count on the federal
government to confront the climate
change challenge. But we shouldn't
hold our breath waiting for the sort
of swift, decisive public policy deci-
sions that climate change demands.
Experts are pretty confident that even
the watered-down cap-and-trade bill
now being considered by Congress
won't pass this year (and it's already
years overdue). The sad political real-

ity - and one that may not change for
quite some time - is that there aren't
enough votes on Capitol Hill to get
strong greenhouse gas legislation onto
the president's desk. Any action the
federal government takes is likely to be
too little, too late. And any action state
governments take is, for the most part,
limited only to individual states.
Luckily, this doesn't mean our plan-
et is doomed, because strong federal
action isn't the only route back to 350.
Private-sector solutions and ordinary
people could also get us there. In fact,
they're already outpacing the federal
Nonprofit organizations are one of
the focal points in this trend. Grass-
roots organizations like 350.org, the
Sierra Club and Greenpeace have
made headway by successfully promot-
ing both conservation and awareness
about the environmental impacts of
individual and group decisions. And
other nonprofits are taking fresh, effec-
tive and less obvious approaches to
environmental problems. For instance,
the environmental think tank World
Resources Institute is partnering with
business powerhouses like Goldman
Sachs to funnel investments into green
companies and turn clean technologies
into profitable opportunities.
Meanwhile, clean technology com-
panies are pushing the envelope by
advancing earth-friendly technolo-
gies and bringing them to the market.
Solar panels that were prohibitively
expensive a decade ago have become
increasingly cost-effective as technol-
ogy has advanced, and solar panel sales
have grown by more than 50 percent
annually in recent years. In a similar
vein, newborn "smart grid" compa-
nies are using IT and new devices to
help electricity producers generate
and distribute electricity more effi-
ciently, reducing their usage of dirty
fossil fuels. As technologies like these
become cheaper and more efficient,
they're likely to replace fossil fuels,
with or without a government man-
Of course, reaching 350 requires
changes from most businesses, notjust

clean tech companies. Big companies
produce high greenhouse emissions in
everything from generating electricity
to making chemicals to producingcon-
sumer goods. But there's a silver lining
here, too. "Sustainability" has become
a common and oft-repeated buzzword
in leading firms and business schools,
and smart companies are cutting their
carbon emissions and marketing them-
selves as green companies. Google, for
instance, recently set a goal to go car-
bon neutral.
Private sector
solutions lead the 0
green revolution.
Consumer intervention can serve
as a substitute for government man-
dates, as conscious consumers use
their purchasing decisions to sup-
port green companies and apply pres-
sure to firms that waste and pollute.
New websites, like carrotmob.org,
are emerging to help environmentally
conscious consumers organize boy-
cotts of firms that aren't being friend-
ly to Mother Earth. And companies
that sell environmentally damaging
products may take a hit as competi-
tors' products are marketed and sold
as greener alternatives.
Global climate change screams
for government action, but until that
happens, students, people and private
organizations can't afford to wait.
The 350 goal is daunting, critically
important and will require a revolu-
tion in the ways people consume and
produce. And students at the heart of
cutting-edge environmental research,
and who are just beginning careers in
new industries, are likely to play a key
role in gettingthe planetbacktowhere
it should be.
- Brian Flaherty is an associate
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at bfla@umich.edu.


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