4A - Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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GARY GRACA ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of theirauthors.
Blind to oversight
DPS Oversight Committee in shambles, needs reform
When University students get in trouble, they often
end up receiving a visit from the Department of Pub-
lic Safety. With so much responsibility vested in this
department, it's critical that the campus population be able to
trust the job these officers are doing. But the University is abjectly
failing its duty to ensure that there is an authority keeping DPS in
line. The administration has allowed the DPS Oversight Commit-
tee to lapse into irrelevance by failing to provide for adequate rep-
resentation of students, faculty and employees on the committee.
This failure is in direct violation of state law, and the University
must move quickly to right the staggering number of wrongs it has
failed to address.
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Get your pecans in Crisler
In 1990, state law gave four-year universi-
ties the right to establish their own campus
police forces. This law came with an impor-
tant caveat - any university that chose to
establish a police force was obligated to also
form a committee with the power to review
police actions and decisions. The commit-
tee is legally required to have six members
- two of each students, faculty and staff
members - who are elected by the respec-
tive members of those constituent bodies.
The University created DPS in 1992 and
established the necessary committee, the
DPS Oversight Committee, the same year.
But an investigation by the Daily revealed
that the committee is all but incapable of
fulfilling its basic function in several key
ways. The committee meets only about
once a year, and despite the fact that DPS
receives between eight and 12 complaints
per year, the committee typically only han-
dles two of them. More egregiously, repre-
sentation on the committee has not been
determined in the manner that state laws
calls for, The students on the committeeare
simply appointed by the Michigan Student
Assembly. Voting for employee representa-
tion alternatesbetween exclusively union
and non-union employees each year. And
there has been no election to determine fac-
ulty representation since 2000. Indeed, it's
hard to find a part of the law that the over-
sight committee isn't breaking.
With respect to student representa-
tion, not only are student representatives
appointed by MSA rather than elected in
a campus-wide election, but the student
seats on the committee have been empty for
months at a time. This year, there was no
student representation from May through
November. This situation should be enor-
mously concerning and frustrating for
students. It's outrageous that a committee
designed to keep tabs on police who direct-
ly intervene in students' lives isn't making
sure to include a consistent student voice.
With such a track record in mind, MSA
President Abhishek Mahanti's defense of
MSA choosing the student representa-
tives is dubious at best. The law calls for a
student-wide election, not an appointment
process conducted by student government
representatives. Not only is this an obvious
legal distinction, but it's also an important
practical difference. How can MSA be per-
mitted to appoint representatives to such a
committee when it has historically allowed
the position to remain unfilled for months
at a time?
In addition to being just plain wrong,
MSA's defense of this policy smacks of Uni-
versity administration over-involvement
in MSA affairs. According to today's front
page story, when University professor
Dr. Douglas Smith e-mailed the assembly
with a concern about a grievance, he was
invited to meet with MSA to discuss his
issues - one of them being MSA's appoint-
ment of students to the committee. Soon
afterwards, MSA pulled an about-face and
asserted that it was, without a doubt, fol-
lowing the law. The fact that the University
appears to be forcing its legal defense upon
MSA further undermines the credibility of
the assembly and demonstrates the need
for separate student elections to determine
student members of the DPS Oversight
, The University must act swiftly to facili-
tate campus-wide student elections and
make sure that the faculty and employee
elections are also taking place fairly. What's
more, students, faculty and employees
should be demanding fair elections from
the administration. DPS has a significant
impact on the lives of everyone connected to
the University, and this committee should
be our method of guaranteeing that DPS is
operating fairly. The fact that this commit-
tee has been ignored and made irrelevant
sends the message that the University's
police force is not accountable to the people
it is supposed to be protecting.
The University has no right - legal or oth-
erwise - to employ a police force that lacks
a robust oversight committee. Every mem-
ber of the campus community should be
calling for the University administration to
reinvigorate the DPS Oversight Committee
by guaranteeing fair, consistent elections,
student, faculty and employee membership,
and frequent meetings that truly address
the grievances our community has with its
And if the University doesn't take these
steps immediately, it should expect -
and deserve - a lawsuit from the state of
here comes a time in the course
of Michigan football when the
losses start to pile up, when
the fans begin to
lose their faith and
when things just
can't seem to get
It's usually in
the morning, when
everyone is a bit
nied, in the best of WILL
circumstances, by GRUNDLER
voices of encour-_
like Fielding Yost's,
who once famously said, "Sometime,
when the team is up against it, and
the breaks are beating the boys, tell
'em to go out there with all they got
and win just one more - just one
more, I tell ya! Unless they're playing
Ohio State. They are? Oh, dear. Well,
there's always basketball season."
Now, what should we infer from
this? Should we infer that the legend-
ary football coach is saying we need
to sell our Ohio State tickets and give
up on our football team? No. Should
we infer that with a name like Field-
ing he probably didn't have many
friends as a kid? Yes.
The point is, Michigan football
will recover. Moreover, after it recov-
ers, it will eventually decline again,
only to recover sometime in the
future. This is the way of the world,
as evidenced by stock markets, the
weather, unwanted body hair and
Oprah Winfrey's weight.
As fans, this means we should
stop bellyaching, cheer the team
on against the Team Named After,
The Seed Of An Angiosperm and
afterward, as Yost said, go to Crisler
Arena and watch the basketball team.
Because right now, Michigan basket-
ball is AWESOME.
To those readers who feel as
though I'm advocating fair-weather
fanship and urging people to watch
the basketball team simply because
it made the NCAA Tournament last
season, I say this: I am NOT a fair-
weather fan, so just drop it.
To those uninitiated readers who
have experienced only the Big House,
let me explain what you're missing.
The first thing you'll realize when
you enter Crisler Arena is that you are
INDOORS. Isn't that great?! No snow
or rain or bird poop to deal with! But
that's not the only-thing. The indoor
nature of the arena traps the deli-
cious aroma of the roasted pecan
vendors - the pecans, not the vendors
- which makes the place smell unbe-
lievably good. It's the type of sweet,
old-timey smell that brings you back
to those innocent days spent at your
grandmother's, back when she was a
Speaking of grandmothers, that is
how each and every event staff per-
son acts when you encounter them on
the way to your seat. This is because
they are grandmothers (or grandfa-
thers). Seriously, some of them even
have little stools to sit on. To me,
this is delightful, because they are
delightful people that could prob-
ably tell me all I ever wanted to know
about Michigan basketball, their
grandchildren and Harry Truman.
And I would listen!
Once you reach your seat, you'll
notice that for some reason, the play-
ers aren't the size of molecules. This
is because Crisler wasn't designed for
a crowd roughly the size of Asia. As
a student, you may get placed in the
general admission section, but this
is infinitely better than row 342, of
And then, after taking your seat,
after an exciting dimming of the
lights, what you've come to see will
stride confidently onto the court: the
Michigan Pom Pom squad itself.
Oops, I mean the Michigan basket-
Boy, do they look good.
Now, I know some of you are wor-
ried because you have no clue when
it comes to basketball. Fear not. A
lack of knowledge about basketball
has not stopped people from watch-
ing it, writing about it or playing it in
the CCRB. When it comes to Michi-
gan basketball there are simply three
things to know:
1. There is a God, and His name is
2. When the Ball is in God's Hands,
Miracles can happen.
3. Give the Ball to God.
Th e arena
isn't just for
The actual rules of basketball are,
of course, completely irrelevant and
above the heads of many students.
Does anyone really know what goes
through a referee's head when he
does anything? No. The important
thing is to yell and scream a lot when-
ever the whistle blows.
Unfortunately, there comes a time
when a columnist runs out of words.
There are so many things to tell my
readers about - the cool announcer
guy, the entertaining halftime shows
(one does get bored of marching
bands, after all) and the quirky play-
ers (Zack Novak's shot defies the laws
of physics, Ben Cronin defies thelaws
of biology). You'll just have to go and
see for yourself - and try the pecans.
- Will Grundler can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emily Barton, Jamie Block, William Butler, Ben Caleca, Nicholas Clift,
Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Sutha K Kanagasingam,
Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith,
Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
MARY ROCK '
The battle for lives
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Daily hasn't made the case One must ask, why isn't the fetus consid-
rabortionered a human being? A fetus certainly quali-
for fies as a member of our species. A fetus fulfills
all of the criteria that biologists use to define
TO THE DAILY: an organism, like the ability to grow, respond
I was rather disappointed to read the Daily to stimuli and undergo metabolism. Pro-life
editorial about the Pitts-Stupak Amendment to or pro-choice, you cannot deny the cold, hard,
the U.S. House of Representatives version of the biological fact that a fetus is an organism. And,
health care reform bill (<em>Stop Stupak</em>, being an organism, it must belong to a species.
11/10/2009). As a pro-lifer who longs to see the Of course, a human fetus is a member of the
day that health care will be more accessible to human species.
disadvantaged Americans, I was overjoyed at Why on earth would we deny basic human
the passage of the Stupak Amendment. While rights to a member of our own species? The
I certainly respect the right to free expression, editorial does not consider this question. This
I cannot help but point out several flaws in the is to be expected. The fact is that I have yet
editorial's views of the Stupak Amendment. to see an argument in favor of legalized abor-
In particular, the editorial fails to justify why tion on demand that is both factually accurate
abortion should be included in federal health and logically sound. If anyone knows of such
care. The editorial simply assumes that its an argument, I would be grateful if he or she
audience will agree with the notion that abor- would supply it to me. I am rather perplexed
tion is a legitimate, morally defensible medical as to why so many people call themselves pro-
procedure. The fact is that many Americans - choice since there is indeed no sound justifica-
if not a majority of Americans - disagree with tion for being pro-choice.
this assumption. Now, there is nothing wrong If the editorial - and, indeed, pro-choice
with proposing an idea that the majority of Americans - can't explain to me why they are
people disagree with, but when you do so, you justified in denying members of our species
must be prepared to justify your idea. human rights, then they surely cannot expect
Naturally, when one proposes that abortion me to pay for the practice with my tax dollars.
should be permitted, he or she is of the opin- If pro-choice Americans take issue with the
ion that the fetus is not a human being, and is ' Stupak Amendment, then they should sit down,
therefore not entitled to protection under the think hard, and devise a logical reason as to
law. The editorial does nothing to justify this why abortion should be funded.
viewpoint, which is troubling, since that is the
basis of the entire argument against the Stupak Jeffrey Brown
Amendment. LSA junior
In the past week, I have learned more random, unique
tidbits about strangers than I ever did in the dreaded
icebreakers of classes and student organizations. Over a
few juice boxes, I heard about what it's like to dive with
sharks off the coast of Australia, I engaged in a friendly
debate about the best type of pie, and I shared my favor-
ite fun facts about Fig Newtons with a small audience. I
did all of this working at the Blood Battle. Granted, I've
been at blood drives before - these people are essentially
forced to listen and respond to me as I make sure they're
feeling okay after giving blood - but talking to donors is
the highlight of my day.
As a chair of Blood Battle, the nurses and volunteers
sometimes assume that Iam going into public health after
graduation. That always makes me feel sheepish, because
I am a pre-law student. See, you don't have to be pre-med
to help save lives.
One pint - one person - potentially saves three lives.
There are many numbers in the statistics I rattle off when
promoting Blood Battle: We are trying to collect 2,400
pints of blood to save three times as many lives. Every
two seconds, someone needs blood. The Blood Battle is
a 28-year tradition between Michigan and Ohio State.
Michigan lost by three pints two years ago, and won by
181 pints last year. The months of planning are entrenched
in budgetary numbers, numbers of promotional materials
and numbers of appointments.
But it's not about the numbers. When people give blood,
they donate time and relinquish a physical part of them-
selves to restore other people's lives. My co-chairs and
I, along with our volunteers and nurses, have dedicated
our time to a competition of service and school spirit. It's
A lot of people say they're scared of needles. But how
great of a fear will stop you from donating a pint of blood
to help three people? You don't have to watch. You can
listen to your iPod. And afterward, you're given juice and
cookies. It's a simple way to do something important.
A donor from the School of Social Work was turned away
from donating blood two years agobecause of a number: her
racing pulse rate. She was too nervous to give blood. But the
deferral didn't deter her. I met her and learned about her
year working in Baltimore schools with Americorps while
she snacked on some Oreos after giving blood last week. She
conceded that there is nothingscary aboutgiving blood, and
she now plans to be a regular donor.
A fine line exists between turning faces into numbers
of pints of blood and seeing them as people. But I didn't
argue with the nurses two minutes before our doors
closed just to squeeze another body into the Koessler
Room of the League. No, it was the donor's earnest face,
flushed from running up two flights of stairs and genuine
desire to donate despite a long day of research and class,
that led me to plead with the nurses to work just a little bit
longer on a Friday night.
School spirit is a huge part of Blood Battle. Two years
ago, we lost by three pints. You're probably sitting near
three people right now, and if those three people donat-
ed blood, the difference could have meant victory. That
said, I think it says a lot about Michigan and Michigan
students that we still have the winning record. Ohio State
may have more students, but members of the University of
Michigan community have bigger hearts.
I hope that we can prove Michigan's caringspirit in the
last few days of Blood Battle. How many lives have you
Mary Rock is the chair of Blood Battle.
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