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November 19, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-11-19

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4A - Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

74L e firIC4topan +

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
4 420 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.
Huffing and puffing
University shouldn't implement campus-wide smoking ban
tudents concerned about the looming campus-wide smok-
ing ban probably found little to be excited about at the first
public forum addressing the policy last week. Barring some
unforeseen change of heart, the University will become a smoke-
free campus in July 2011. Though the University should promote
public health, this policy goes too far in limiting the right of stu-
dents to smoke. Rather than subjecting smokers to a policy that
will severely restrict their lifestyle while providing little benefit to
overall public health, the University should simply enforce exist-
ing bans on smoking inside and directly outside of buildings.

We deserved a better grade."
- Christian Rodriguez, a 12-year-old student from the Bronx, noting the low marks received by his school, which
is disproportionately made up of black and hispanic students, as reported yesterday by the The New York Times.



Qu u F UG

Reckless advice for MSA

Announced in April, the ban will extend
the existing restrictions on smoking to
include all outdoor University property.
The University held its first public forum
regarding the ban last week. Ken Warner,
dean of the School of Public Health, led the
session and spoke alongside other individ-
uals representing the Smoke-Free Univer-
sity Initiative. One of the primary concerns
addressed at the forum was the plan to
enforce the policy. Instead of directly pun-
ishing those in violation of the ban, smok-
ers will be offered workshops aimed at
helping them quit. Warner was confident
that students will comply with the ban,
and that the policy will promote healthy
It's no secret that smoking and expo-
sure to secondhand smoke leads to adverse
health effects. For this reason, the Uni-
versity already has in place sensible rules
that prohibit smoking inside buildings and
within specified distances of them, as well
as on all'hospital-grounds. Theseare rea-
sonable restrictions that protect public
health, and the University should make
sure that they are being followed. It may
irndeed be r'ue that she areas surrfo-nidig-
buildings are in need of better enforce-
But banning smoking campus-wide is
overkill. The health benefits would be
negligible to nonsmokers, as secondhand
smoke only poses a danger in enclosed

environments. The health of the campus
population in general is not significantly
impacted by this ban, while smokers them-
selves will be seriously inconvenienced,
needing to either go off campus to smoke
or quit the habit.
But the University has no right to force
smokers to quit. That decision should
remain with the individual smoker. The
University can and should promote health
by offering free cessation workshops and
products to smokers who want to quit.
There's a fine line between promoting
health and requiring it, and a campus-wide
outdoor ban crosses it.
It's also troubling that no matter how
much the University insists that it wants
input from students, faculty and employ-
ees, it probably won't revise the policy.
Students should by now be used to the
administration setting up committees that
it never actually listens to, but that doesn't
mean it's right. The University should lis-
ten to the concerns of students, especially
smokers, and find a way to accommodate
them if it's really going to move forward
with this ban.
--~Tn their efforM tt promote health, Uni-
versity officials are acting like domineer-
ing parents to thousands of students and
faculty members. The University should
forget about the ban and instead make a
more concerted effort to keep smoking out
of University buildings and entrances.

uring my time as a columnist
for the Daily, the Michigan
Student Assembly has been
a frequent tar-
get of mine. Two
years ago, I wrote
about the crisis
of leadership in
the assembly dur-
ing the troubled,
scandal-ridden ten-
ure of Zack Yost.
Last winter, when R
assembly meetings ROBERT
were hijacked by SOAVE
people who wanted
to discuss unsolv-
able foreign policy
issues, I argued that MSA had made
itself irrelevant by failing to address
campus issues. I have ranged from
advocating new assembly leadership
to questioningthe need for MSA at all.
But this week, I found myself feel-
ing bad for MSA. And that's because
the University has swindled them.
It all started this summer when Dr.
Douglas Smith, a University profes-
sor, first contacted MSA about a vari-
ety of issues - among them, concerns
about the Department of Public Safety
Oversight Committee. The commit-
tee's purpose is to review the actions
of DPS, the University's police force,
as required by state law. The law also
stipulates that two students, faculty
members and employees must sit on
the committee, and that the campus at
large must elect them.
According to e-mail exchanges
between Smith and MSA members,
MSA was initially eager to talk with
him about the DPS Oversight Commit-
tee. But once his attempts to contact
various members became more pro-
nounced, the executive board sought
the opinion of General Counsel, the
University's chief legal consultants.
Here's the key: General Counsel rec-
ommended that MSA not meet with

That policy ended Tuesday, when
Smith was finally allowed to speak at
an MSA meeting following a special
investigation by the Daily that found
the DPS Oversight Committee to be
in violation of state law. The Daily
reported Monday that the committee
routinely lacked student members for
months at a time, and that MSA was
appointing the members instead of
holding student-wide elections called
for by state law.
The fact that the DPS Oversight
Committee has been so dramatically
failing its mandate should come as a
disturbing wake-up call. How can stu-
dents trust DPS to keep an eye on them
when the body responsible for keep-
ing an eye on DPS meets infrequently,
reviews only a fraction of the grievanc-
es that are filed with DPS and doesn't
even have student representation
for half the year? The law mandates
that an oversight committee needs to
actively examine police decisions for
the good of the campus as a whole. To
neglect this committee is reckless.
But the only thing more concerning
than the state of the committee is that
the University has done nothing to fix
it for years. And this is why I'm feel-
ing bad for MSA: It appears that the
University essentially dropped its own
failings onto MSA by giving them bad
legal advice.
After all, the University administra-
tion had to know that the DPS Over-
sight Committee was in deplorable
shape and breaking the law. This has
been going on for too long for adminis-
trators to not know about the problems
with the committee (and if they truly
didn't know, that's an entirely different
problem). And once Smith began his
heckling, they had to be aware of the
problem. Why, then, tell MSA to ignore
It's reasonable for the MSA execu-
tives to have been unsure about

whether Smith's concerns were legiti-
mate, but it's completely ridiculous for
General Counsel to be unsure about
them. The only explanation is that
the University knowingly told MSA to
suppress the view that the DPS Over-
sight Committee was seriously flawed.
Either General Counsel thought the
issue would simply go away, or it fig-
ured MSA would take the blame and
divert attention from the administra-
tion's failings.
'U' shouldn't have
told the assembly
to ignore concerns.
Now that MSA has heard Smith
speak, its leaders will begin looking at
how to fix student representation on
the committee. But will themore troo-
bling issue - the fact that the Univer-
sity misled, either deliberately or out
of complete idiocy, the student govern-
meAt on a matter of state law - everbe
When the campus police force is
operating without oversight, we've
got a bad but fixable situation. When
student government ignores the per-
son who brings this up, it's a mistake
but maybe an understandable one. But
when the student government ignores
the issue on the recommendation of
the University's chief legal counsel,
what can we even do?
As MSA discusses ways to fix stu-
dent representation on the committee,
it must be mindful of whom it takes its
cues from.
-Robert Soave is the Daily's
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at rsoave@urich.edu.


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
A right to guns on campuS

Hey, liberals: Moderate this

Over the past few weeks, both the Daily and
the Michigan Student Assembly have come
out in opposition to Michigan House Bill 5474,
which would override a University ordinance
that attempts to make the entire campus a
firearm-free zone (Trigger happy, 10/26/2009).
The bill seeks to clarify the position of institu-
tions of higher education under state firearms
laws, and make them equivalent to other local
government units. Dorms, classrooms and
other areas listed as "school property" under
Michigan law would stay gun-free, but if the
bill passes, concealed carry would be permit-
ted on the rest of the campus in accordance
with state and federal law.
Unfortunately, the Daily's editorial is full
of the reflexive anti-gun sentiments common
among self-styled progressives. As a liberal, I
can attest to the fact that opinions on gun rights
and the Second Amendment are near the top of
the list of issues about which left-leaning folks
are content to unthinkingly follow. Otherwise
sophisticated people frequently claim as self-
evident the idea that guns are bad, more guns
are worse, and that anybody who thinks other-
wise is part of a moustache-twirling, shadowy
cabal devoted to preserving individual free-
doms at the expense of a peaceful society. At
the risk of destroying your mahogany-scented
fantasies about the evil gun lobby, I'm here
to tell you that it's not House Bill 5474 that's
"extreme and poorly thought out," as the Daily
would have you believe, but rather much of the
opposition to the bill.
The Daily attacks a straw man when it claims
that proponents of the bill argue that colleges
should not be allowed to establish gun-free
zones. It's unclear whether this position is
meant as a normative moral or legal claim, but
both federal and state law - even after the pas-
sage of the bill - will respect the rights of uni-
versities to ban guns in certain places. In fact,
as recently as the District ofColumbia vs. Heller
decision in 2008, the Supreme Court made it
clear that nothing in the developing Second
Amendment jurisprudence should be taken to

constrain laws forbidding firearms on campus.
The current debate is one about public policy,
not constitutionality. The debate does not occur
on the terms the Daily's editorial asserts they
do. Until the Second Amendment is repealed or
the University moves into a secured complex
that isn't open to the public, the fantasyland
gun-free school zone will never exist.
The editorial also uses the popular tac-
tic of conjuring up doomsday scenarios and
characterizing them as the inevitable result
of allowing campus to carry guns. The only
likely result from the passage of the bill, as the
Daily asserts, "is that more danger will be cre-
ated due to accidental shootings." Once again,
when we peel back the confident rhetoric we
find a hollow core of false pronouncements
grounded in a belief that more guns equals
more violence.
In fact, more than a handful of states across
the country already allow concealed campus
carry by students and faculty - in Utah, this
even includes dorm rooms. And yet, there is
little evidence of illegal conduct by permit
holders, let alone the trigger-happy Armaged-
don that some are predicting will come after
the passage of Michigan's comparatively more
restrictive bill. As Second Amendment scholar
Dave Kopel points out throughout his work
on the subject, licensed gun owners are more
law-abiding than the general population. This
is not to say there can't be a persuasive argu-
ment made for restrictions, but rather that the
empirical data doesn't support the scenario
that the Daily outlines. In fact, there's some
evidence to suggest that violent criminals
might even be deterred by the increased pres-
ence of armed citizens on campus.
The sooner we can have a debate about gun
rights that isn't pitched as a choice between
fictional gun-free communities and noontime
shootouts on the Diag, the sooner we'll be able
to talk honestly about the best ways to keep our
community safe.
David Heal is a Law student.

t's been tough to be a conserva-
tive lately. I turn on the news and
see devout praise for President
Barack Obama and
barefaced vitriol
for former Alas-
kan Gov. Sarah
Palin. I read The -
Michigan Daily
and discover Col-
lege Republicans at
the University are
in disarray after
the resignation of a CHRIS
centrist chairman. KOSLOWSKI
And don't even get
me started on most
professors. Every-
where I turn, it seems something
manages to remind me that the GOP
has no direction, no leadership and no
chance of regaining power.
A solution bubbling up from
many pundits and leaders on the
right is moderation. They argue for
the Republican Party's moderniza-
tion through the adoption of more
progressive values. The country is
headed left, they say. To survive,
Republicans should loosen their ties
to the past and strive to land the
support of America's moderate and
undecided voters. The era of Reagan
is dead, and the conservative move-
ment must be redefined.
There's no way to sugarcoat what I
think about this. It is undoubtedly, 100
percent, indisputably wrong. A large,
organized move to moderate the GOP
would end the party as we know it and
then go on to wipe Republicans off the
political map entirely. Betraying the
strong, organized, spirited voice of its
conservative core would be the worst
move the party could make.
Liberals have my utmost respect
in one very important facet of their
psyches. When arguing core beliefs,
rarely will a liberal submit to mod-
eration. If you ask a progressive about
health care, abortion, gay marriage

or global warming, chances are high
that person will be unwilling to give
much ground. Compromise on these
issues would be in direct violation of
what they believe is right. How can
you compromise on a woman's right
to her body or the right of two people.
to enter into a matrimony recognized
by the state? The majority of liber-
als whose ideas I have read or heard
attack these issues with a heartfelt
drive and refuse to rest until what
they believe comes to fruition.
if you ask me, it isn't Obama's cha-
risma, some catchy buzzwords or
even hatred of George W. Bush that
is driving the current Democrat wave
of power. It's the party's relentless
ambition to push their values. "Hope"
and "change" mean nothing, superfi-
cially, but underneath they represent
a movement unwilling to accept any-
thing but victory.
Some suggest the GOP should com-
bat the Democrats by adopting more
progressive values in an effort to lure
centrists not totally sold on the left's
agenda. This makes absolutely no
sense to me. With Obama and a host
of other liberal superstars on one side
of the ticket, why would anyone be
tempted to vote for Democrat Lite?
In fact, Republicans have already
tried to put a moderate candidate
in the White House, and they failed
miserably. If anyone was going to
lure moderate voters as moderates to
the Republican side, it was Sen. John
McCain (R-Ariz.). Onewouldbehard-
pressed to find a voice in Washington
more dedicated to bipartisanship.
McCain co-sponsored Congressional
legislation with Democratic Senators
Ted Kennedy, Joe Lieberman and
Russell Feingold. McCain proudly
stood by his "maverick" moniker
given to him by the media as a symbol
of his unwillingness to let party poli-
tics stand in his way.
The maverick lost to Obama, acan-
didate who promised bipartisanship

- as long as it was the Republicans
who were compromising. For Obama
and most Democrats, bipartisanship
means moderates and Republicans
caving to the liberal will. Need evi-
dence? Look at the reaction to the Stu-
pak Amendment in the recent House
health care bill. Democrat leaders
included the amendment, which bans
federal health insurance from cover-
ing abortions, to garner support of a
few moderatevoters. Rather thangra-
ciously accepting this miniscule revi-
sion to a massive bill that is almost
void of conservative input, many on
the left chastised Stupak and House
leaders supporting such a disturbing
GOP needs more
not less.
I don't blame Stupak's attackers or
any liberals for sticking to their guns.
Bipartisanship in Washington is a
crock. Liberals have regained politi-
cal power in America because they
never wavered in their efforts to con-
vince the public that they were right
and the political right was wrong.
Republicans need to take a page
out of their playbook. Moderation
isn't the answer for the GOP. The
party needs to pull out all the stops
to convince voters that conservative
values are the driving force behind
America's success. They need to find
a leader who can fearlessly and elo-
quently communicate this message,
not to entice centrists and moderate
Democrats to vote Republican, but to
convert them into true conservatives.
- Chris Koslowski can be
reached at cskoslow@umich.edu.



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