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November 23, 2009 - Image 4

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4A - Monday, November 23, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
E-MAIL HARUN AT BULJINAH@UMICH.EDU

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HARUN BUJINA

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu
GARY GRACA ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
EDITOR IN CHIEF ED TORIAL.PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
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.
No more broken promises
State should fund education out of moral, practical concerns
ov. Jennifer Granholm, having already signed a budget
eliminating the Michigan Promise Scholarship, has now
returned to her pro-education rhetoric. Last week, she
urged college students to pressure the legislature to fund the pro-
gram, which helps students pay for in-state tuition. Though her
position is hypocritical in light of her signature on last month's bud-
get, Granholm is correct - the government has a duty to reverse
its decision on the Promise Scholarship. But the burden shouldn't
be on students: Instead, legislators should start doing their jobs
and find a way to fund this necessary tuition aid program.

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Compulsory compassion

The Michigan Promise Scholarship,
which provides between $500 and $4,000
in merit aid to 6,172 University students,
was cut in late September by state legisla-
tors due to a $2.8 billion budget shortfall.
But apparently dissatisfied with the bud-
get bill she signed that cut the scholarship,
Granholm has begun a statewide campaign
to restore the scholarship and plans to visit
college campuses across the state. She has
suggested that the legislature, currently
enjoying its hunting season recess, amend
the Earned Income Tax Credit as a means
of funding the $120 million program.
The loss of the Promise Scholarship
is particularly painful in light of tuition
increases over the last decade. With tuition
up 52 percent since 2002, the University
of Michigan consistently ranks among
the most expensive public universities in
the country. Scholarship cuts and tuition
increases were compounded by significant
cuts to K-12 education in this year's budget.
The bottom line is a Michigan that is all but
giving up on its schools.
Such a result will be disastrous for the
state's students. While those with options
will go to other states for an education,
many will notb e able to afford tuition any-
where else. These students won't gain the
skills needed to excel in today's economy,
and will be left with fewer employment
options with lower salaries. The state
should feel responsible for helping people

to escape this future by offering compre-
hensive tuition aid.
But in addition to moral concerns, the
state should fund the Promise Scholar-
ship for practical considerations as well.
With every student who leaves Michigan
in search of better-funded and less expen-
sive schools, the state's future employment
base dwindles. The long-term result will be
a state that isn't prepared to move its econo-
my in new directions. And if the state econ-
omy can't improve, legislators are certain
to face even greater budgetary shortfalls
down the line. This is the danger in allow-
ing the cost of higher education in Michi-
gan to slip out of reach of most students.
Students shouldn't have to pressure law-
makers - as Granholm is urging - to save
the Promise Scholarship. The inherent
value of education to Michigan's future is
something that should already be under-
stood. The fact that legislators approved
a budget that doesn't fund the Promise
Scholarship and Granholm signed it speaks
volumes about the incompetence of the for-
mer and the insincerity of the latter. But
both branches of government should feel
compelled to revisit the budget debate, find
alternate sources of revenue and keep the
promise to Michigan's students.
And if they don't do that, no amount of
cutting programs or raising taxes will save
the budget of a state has given up on educa-
tion.

he third Wednesday night of
every month during my ele-
mentary school years involved
two loaves of Pep-
peridge Farm
bread, a jar of Jif
peanut butter, a jar
of Smucker's stiaw-
berry jelly and a
roll of aluminum
foil. My family and
I would make as
many PB&J sand- EA
wiches as we could LEAH
and donate them to POTKIN
the Martha's Table
organization, which
helps provide food and clothing to
people in the Washington, D.C., area.
This was my first community service
project.
My community service habit con-
tinued because I was required to com-
plete 60 hours in order to graduate
high school. The top of every student's
report card had a section dedicated to
logging his or her hours and detailed
the hours required, hours earned and
hours remaining. Here on campus,
much of my time is consumed with
libraryvisits and fulfillingmydistribu-
tion requirements, and it seems I have,
little time (or, more correctly, I am
not readily inclined to make the time)
to give back to the Ann Arbor com-
munity. But who's to say community
service can't be a distribution require-.
ment category of its own? Think credit
hours. The University should make
community service hours a gradua-
tion requirement to motivate students
to get involved and hopefully stay
involved as a result.
I came into this university as an LSA
freshman knowingI would have to ful-
fill certain distribution requirements.
Despite the fact that I can hardly per-
form simple multiplication in my head,
I am currently enrolled in Stats 350
to fulfill my quantitative reasoning
requirement. Like it or not, fulfilling
these requirements forced me to bal-

ance all aspects of my studies - some-
thing I wouldn't have done had it not
been mandatory to do so. Just think
what students could learn if a commu-
nity service requirement was added to
the equation.
With around 25,000 undergrads, a
requirement of a mere four hours.prior
to graduation would result in over
100,000 hours contributed per gradu-
ating class. Even the overachiever of
overachievers could spare a few hours
a year to help someone less fortunate -
and what better place to do so than our
beloved A-squared community? With
elementary schools located very near
campus and a world-renowned hospi-
tal nearby, motivated students - witha
little push - could make a huge differ-
ence. Ann Arbor is a prime community
for students to find their community
service niches.
The University community prides
itself on its dedication to community
service, and while many students
already volunteer, some of us could use
the additional incentive. For example,
a friend of mine asked me to drive her
to the Food Gatherers organization a
few weeks ago. I was impressed with
her and disappointed in myself for
not taking the same initiative. But my
conscience was soon put to ease when
I learned she had to do service for her
Econ 108 class.
I'm sure people are. wondering
what's so great about her work if she's
being forced to do it. But whether her
work is required or not, people are
being helped by her efforts. Also, there
are many well-intentioned students
(I like to put myself in this category)
who have elaborate agendas in which
community service - though a nag-
ging thought - isn't a priority. But
after being pushed to complete service
hours, many people have rewarding
experiences and consequently devel-
op a life-long dedication to service.
There's no beating that.
Feeling the need to give myself that
extra push, I took it upon myself to do

some research. I would bet my cher-
ished Ohio State vs. Michigan football
ticket that few students have come
across the insanelyuseful University of
Michigan Community Relations web-
site. This website has a section dedi-
cated to community service that lists
different organizations and how to get
involved. Looking at this website, I was
like a kid in a candy shop on a service
high. There's a plethora of great orga-
nizations just craving student involve-
ment.
College students
need extra push
to volunteer.
But the University can provide even
more. I can see it now: A tab on CTools
with the words "Service 101" between
biology and English classes. For those
of you who didn't have a service
requirement in high school, the moni-
toring of hours is really quite simple.
When a student completes hours, he
or she fills out a form to submit to an
adviser and - tada - hours completed!
It's shame that so many students
miss out on the opportunity to com-
plete these often life-changing hours
because they're too busy socializ-
ing, fulfilling other requirements or
twiddling their service-able thumbs.
Community service should become
a requirement of its own to avoid this
loss of opportunity. Argue all you want
about the unfeasibility of my proposi-
tion - but when push comes to shove,
if students can fulfill distribution
requirements taking dance classes,
they should be able to get credit from
making PB&Js.
--Leah Potkin can be reached
at Ipotkin@umich.edu.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
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
JOHN uN I
Continuing MVP's vision
Last March, the students of the University mittee should not be tolerated and, in keeping
voted for a change in their student government. with our principles, MVP is holding MSA and
Tired Of having a student assembly that didn't its candidates accountable for their actions.
focus on them, they elected Michigan Vision Accountability not only means calling peo-
Party candidates for president and vice, presi- ple out when necessary, but also working to
dent, as well as for nine out of 11 representative fix the probleis we see. With regards to the
seats. These were candidates committed toward DPS oversight issue, we have a candidate, Josh
making the Michigan Student Assembly trans- Buoy, running in this fall's election. He is com-
parent, accountable and focused on students. mitted to holding DPS accountable and, in light
Since MVP joined the assembly, our repre- of the recent influx in crime alerts, working
sentatives have done a tremendous amount to improve campus safety. When MVP sees or
of work to serve students and ensure that the hears of MSA not doing its job, it is committed
assembly focuses on their needs. MVP rep- to not only calling out the assembly but also
resentatives have played significant roles in addressing the problems it sees.
organizing Go Blue, Beat OSU Week and the with the fall elections just around the cor-
Block M at Michigan Stadium. They have also ner, we are proud to say that our current slate of
organized MSA Mondays on the Diag, helped candidates reflects our core principles of trans-
to make campus a welcome environment for parency, accountability and a student focus.
student veterans, focused the assembly on stu- Each of our candidates brings a unique vision
dents by banning non-students from speaking of how MSA can better serve and represent the
at assembly meetings and called for professors student body. These visions include hosting
to post course syllabuses during registration. "campus hall meetings" at which students can
While alotof good work forstudentshas been meet and talk with representatives, bringing
accomplished, there have also been significant big name performers to campus, updating the
shortfalls that reflect the need for increased student organization funding process, stream-
transparency, accountability and focus on lining campus informtation resources and pro-
students. 'T'his past week it was revealed that tecting students' rights.
MSA executives, led by MVP's president and As previously mentioned, MVP has done a
vice president, Abhishek Masanti and Mike lot of good work on the assembly, but Michigan
Rorro, mishandled their role in overseeing the deserves more. The Michigan Vision Party is
Department of Public Safety. MSA executives committed to serving students and fixing the
claimed they followed the advice of the Univer- problems that we see with the assembly. Our
sity's General Counsel. But this is no excuse. In vision remains the same: to restore transparen-
fact, it's rather disturbing because it suggests cy and accountability to MSA. We believe that
that our executives are following the guidance our candidates, with their strongbelief in these
of the University administration rather than core principles, are what the assembly needs in
the student body, whom they are charged with order to make MSA once again relevant.
representing. Help tis continue the vision. We invite you to
This is the Michigan STUDENT Assembly. share your vision for MSA with us at whatsy-
We should expect elected representatives to oturvision@umich.edu, and check out our web-
look out for student interests and know when site, www.michiganvisionparty.com. Finally,
to resist attempts by the administration to we urge you to vote Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.
interfere with student governsance. Excuses
and rationalizatiots are nacceptable. Cu- John Lin is the message chair of
bling key issues like the DPS oversight Com- the Michigan Vision Party.

A stake in health care reform

am about to lose my health insur-
ance and face some tough choices.
It looks like I'm going to be unem-
ployed next senses-
ter. The people
who run things at 1
the Department of
Political Science
have informed me
that they won't need
my services as a
GSI. Applications to
other departments PATRICK
aren't going well,
either. And without O'MAHEN
a University job, I
will lose my Uni-
versity-sponsored health insurance.
Seniors, you'd better listen up - many
of you will lose your health coverage
the day you graduate, and Will face
some difficult decisions of your own.
According to some politicians, like
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), that isn't
a problem. While railing against the
health care reform bill that passed in
the House of Representatives on Nov.
7, he said 10 to 15 million young Ameri-
cans under 30 freely choose to forgo
health insurance because they "don't
want to pay the premiums."
I'm only 30 years old, I'm fairly
healthy, I get 30 minutes of daily exer-
cise, I eat reasonably well and I even
floss regularly. Going without health
insurance seems like it isn't a big deal.
In fact, it might even be a smart choice,
so long as I don't get made into a hood
ornament by a drunk driver while I'm
walking home from the library late at
night. But this risk of a catastrophic
accident means I should have some
form of coverage, both for my own sake
and so that I don't stick taxpayers with
my emergency room bill.
Although I'm quite healthy now,

I suffer from Dysthymic Disorder,
which is essentially a long-term form
of low-grade depression. To treat it, I
check in with a therapist once every
two months. With my current health
insurance plan, I pay a $15 co-pay for
the visit, and the company pays the bal-
ance - more thanO$100. Without insur-
ance, I can't afford to see my counselor,
let alone buy the antidepressant I use
to supplement therapy.
So I have three "choices." The first
one is to stop taking antidepressants
and seeing my therapist. That's a fool-
ish idea, especially since I had trouble
functioning before I sought help sev-
eral years ago.
My second choice is to try to buy
insurance on the open market. But
because I'm an individual, I inherently
create more risk for an insurance com-
pany than I would as part of a large
group buying insurance, so I'll have
to pay several hundred dollars more a
month for a similar policy. Worse, my
depression qualifies as a pre-existing
condition, so I'll pay morestill - if I can
get any company to insure me at all.
My best current choice is to con-
tinue to buy into the GradCare plan for
six months under the Comprehensive
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act
of 1986, commonly known as COBRA.
I pay full price plus five percent of
the plan's monthly premium, which
is about $200 a month. That's much
cheaper than buying insurance as an
individual, but still difficult for me to
pay. I barely earned $20,000 last year
when I had a job. If I'm paying COBRA,
I probably won't have a job, certainly
not one as well-paying as a GSI posi-
tion. That means cutting the other
parts of my budget even further - and
choosing between paying for groceries
and rent won't be much fun.

What does this have to do with you
undergrads? The vast majority of you
are going to lose your parents' health
insurance coverage the day after you
graduate. If you don't have a job lined
up with insurance benefits, you'll face
a menu of the two most unpalatable
choices I outlined above: going with-
out insurance or paying an extraordi-
nary amount on the individual market.
Students face
tough choices if
current bills fail.

0

Both the House and Senate versions
of health care reform would solve
these problems instantly by mandat-
ing insurance companies to extend
coverage of children to age 26. They
would help me by subsidizing my.pre-
miums and allowing me to purchase
insurance at a group rate on a health
insurance exchange, preferably with a
public option that would compete with
private companies and drive down
rates.
The point is that health reform
isn't some arcane debate in far-off
Washington. It has dire implications
for each of our personal lives. For me,
those implications likely start on Jan.
1. For you seniors, they arrive as soon
as you graduate. If health reform fails,
I strongly suggest looking both ways
when crossing Main St. after you get
your diploma at Michigan Stadium.
- Patrick O'Mahen can be
reached at pomahen@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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Letters should be less than 300 words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation.0
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.

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