4 - Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
L7be 1Jlidiigan &ailj
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, Mt 48109
GARY GRACA ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflectthe official position ofthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Taking the LEED
The University needs more sustainability initiatives
f the University's annual Environmental Report is any indica-
tor, the administration is talking the talk rather than walking
the walk when it comes to making campus more environmen-
tally friendly. The report released yesterday described the con-
tinued failure of administrators to set and reach truly ambitious
goals for reducing the University's carbon footprint. Educational
institutions should be leaders in the fight against global climate
change, and the University shouldn't lag behind. Administrators
need to commit to aggressive goals for environmental sustainabil-
ity and make a much more concerted effort to meet them.
The Environmental Report was released
by the Office of Campus Sustainability and
tracks the University's performance in cre-
ating a more environmentally sustainable
campus by looking at a variety of factors
including energy consumption and emis-
sions. The report was quick to point out
areas in which the University had achieved
stable levels of energy consumption and
waste. But University buildings also used
at least 6.4 trillion British Thermal Units in
the 2009 fiscal year, the energy equivalent of
3,200 100-ton railroad cars filled to the brim
with coal, according to statistics from the
U.S. Department of Energy.
To its credit, the University reported
gains in recycling and was the only univer-
sity to make the 100 Alternate Fuel Fleets
list published by Automotive Fleet maga-
zine. These details show that on some envi-
ronmental fronts, the University is leading.
Administrators deserve credit for these
But despite these positives, the Univer-
sity still wastes alot of energy, and it hasn't
yet made a substantial effort to fix this. For
instance, the University's Planet Blue pro-
gram, aimed at conserving energy in cam-
pus buildings, has only been instituted in 30
of the University's more than 480 buildings,
and only 30 more buildings will be added
next year. Such a small number shouldn't be
good enough for the University.
The University should be pushing harder
for sustainability. Investing in green energy
in the short run means lower energy costs
in the future - a must for a university that
needs to lower its operating costs in the face
of Michigan's economic turmoil. But the
movement for sustainability is also a moral
fight in which institutions of higher educa-
tion should be at the forefront.
One way to address the University's sus-
tainability shortcomings is to obtain LEED
(Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design) approval for more of its buildings.
The University has only two buildings cer-
* tified by LEED, whereas the University of
Florida has 16 and is attempting to regis-
ter five more. And the University's newest
LEED-certified building - the Ross School
of Business - received a lower certification
than similar business schools completed
and planned by the Massachusetts Insti-
tute of Technology and Stanford University,
respectively. There's no reason for the Uni-
versity not to make LEED-certification a
Another way to push the University to
aim for higher environmental goals would
be for President Mary Sue Coleman to sign
the American College and University Presi-
dents' Climate Commitment. The com-
mitment aims to curb global warming by
reducing carbon emissions at places of high-
er learning. College and university presi-
dents from 662 institutions have already
signed the agreement. But Coleman claims
the environmental goals endorsed by other
university presidents are impractical. Even
if that's true, setting difficult goals would
force the University to take impressive
strides to try to meet them. And even if these
goals weren't reached, the University would
still have made tremendous progress.
The fight against climate change demands
more than just lip service. Administrators
should be wary of falling any farther behind
other universities in implementing sustain-
ability on campus.
People are starting to view the Americans as occupiers,
and in that context more troops would be risky"
- Hanif Shah Hosseini, a lawmaker from Afghanistan's Khost province, commenting on President Barack
Obama's plan to send more U.S. forces to Afghanistan, as reported yesterday by the The Wall Street Journal.
ELAINE MORTON E-MAIL ELAINE AT EMORT@UMICH.EDU
Give me a breUak
i'm in a greatomood today. You ic calendar was designed by a bunch probably to stay competitive. For
should be in a good mood too, of squeaking chipmunks. Our winter instance, Harvard has a break of just
even if you're going to gradu- break is short, our spring break isn't TWELVE days. So we're pretty lucky.
ate soon. Why do in sync with other schools, and our And in my high school, and probably
I have so much summer break - well, our summer lots ofotherhigh schools I couldname
joie de vivre, as break is pretty nice. But students have if I wanted to, I got no more than TEN
we Americans had enough! days. And public schools and colleges
say in bad French I get alarmed when students have in the Upper Peninsula don't even
accents, often had enough. Why? Is it because I get a winter break. It's always winter
when we've had know there will be riots on the Diag there. So I think it's important to put
too much to drink? and sit-ins reminiscent of the Viet- things in perspective.
Deux words: "New nam era? Or is it because I care deeply
Moon." WILL about public opinion? I think it's a
No, that's the little bit of both. Also, I can expect
new "Twilight" GRUNDLER someone to complain to the Michigan Stop complaining
movie, which I - Student Assembly, which will panic
definitely did not and call for a campus-wide ban on about our
see, thank you very much. (It was sold some country.
out.) What I meant to say was: Winter So let me attempt to ease any wnter break.
break. unhappiness about the way things
Let's say that again: Winter break. are run around here. The first thing
Woo! It's close! Tell your friends! we should do as students is realize We lucked out on spring break, too,
I told my friends and they said, that we are students and can't do any- even though most people don't realize
"Dude, it's not for another three thing. I'm sorry, I hate to be pessimis- it. It's always confused me that stu-
weeks, chill out. And stop following tic, but when it comes to the academic dents want to go on spring break with
us around. We don't even know you." calendar, it's set in stone. Throughout kids from Michigan State, Eastern
Well, it's true that professors can the years there have been numerous Michigan University, their friends
schedule exams all the way up to Dec. petitions to restructure it, and each from high school, etc. Aren't we sup-
23, but you have to be dumb enough petition has arrived at the same, sad posed to look down on these people?
to take their classes in the first place. fate: burned to shreds by the Board of Shove our degrees in their faces? Lose
Most of us will head home in about Regents during their secret meetings. to them at football? Why we would
two weeks. Some lucky folks will Needless to say, you can't just go want to "hang out" with them is
head home next week. And, as hap- around changing the academic cal- beyond me. And you know they spend
pens every year, Engineering students endar. Really, it's prepared years all their time working out anyway, so
will have to stay here and continue to in advance, probably in a dungeon. they look way better in swimsuits.
attend classes. Poor souls - but they But you know what? We don't need Let us relax, then, and enjoy our
knew what they were getting into to change the calendar! It's actu- breaks. There will come a time when
when they decided quantum flux inte- ally good as it is. Take winter break, we're swamped by our real-life jobs,
grals were fun. for example, which is usually two to and would give anything to have a lit-
But that is not the issue here. The three weeks. Who cares if Michigan tle time off. But instead, we will have
issue here is that I am shocked - State gets a month? Many students to keep working, and then go home to
shocked - that many students don't don't realize that the University has our children. It will be awful.
share my excitement for winter break. a very good reason for keeping break
Or springbreak, for that matter. Many short: It pisses people off. - Will Grundler can be
students think the Michigan academ- Well, actually, the real reason is reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JASON PESICK I
A new model for'U'funding
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
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTH EDAILY@UMICH.EDU
MSA needs new direction to
better serve students
TO THE DAILY:
independent candidates are joining forces
to bring a fresh perspective and attitude to the
Michigan Student Assembly. We believe that first
and foremost, MSA needs to be revamped. MSA's
reputation and purpose have hit a low in the
opinion of the average student. The first actions
we will take as representatives include working
to rebuild MSA and questioning what is working
and what is not. We want MSA to feel like more of
an arm of Michigan students instead of a mouth,
as evidenced by MSA's recent oligarchic actions.
As independents, we aim to work on smaller-
level niche projects like reducing the expense of
living on campus. This means that food at caf6s
and retail diningshouldbe cheaper. We also think
that meal credits should be rolled over from year
to year. Other issues, such as the drop in diver-
sity rates at Michigan, need to be addressed. MSA
should start initiatives and engage in conversa-
tion on how to increase minority enrollment at
the University. One potential idea for this would
be to have MSA mentors who regularly visit ele-
mentary and high schools with low-income and
minority populations from eighth grade on and
encourage students to apply to the University.
Regardless of what position students may
hold, it is imperative that MSA move away from
the one-party system and begin to deliver on
Michigan students'unmet expectations.
Independent candidatesfor MSA
Remembering Ross School
of Business Student Affairs
Director Robert Koonce
TO THE DAILY:
Words cannot express my heartfelt grati-
tude to all of you. With Robert's passing, you
came to me with your deepest expressions of
sympathy (Memorial service honors Business
School advisor Robert Koonce, 11/05/2009).
You gave me a gift that I will cherish forever
- an insight into Robert's daily life at work. Of
course, I knew what Robert did at work. I knew
he made a difference. What I didn't know was
that he touched more lives in a positive man-
ner than I could have ever imagined. His reach
extended near and far regardless of age, race,
creed or color. For this, I am forever grateful.
His passion to help others will live on
through the scholarship that will be given in
From the halls of the Ross School of Busi-
ness, to the athletic fields all over campus,
to the gospel choir's melodious voices at the
memorial service, I have beautiful memories
etched in my mind.
Robert's passing has created a void in my life
that I am working hard to fill with his memo-
ries. Thank you for providing me with memo-
ries that will help to sustain me during these
difficult times and beyond.
The same week in October that The New York Times
reported Harvard's plan to cut cookies from faculty meet-
ings to save money, University President Mary Sue Coleman
gave a speech that would have sounded ambitious in the best
Coleman said that in less than a decade, the University
could double annual research to $2 billion. She also dis-
cussed the development of a massive new research facility
on North Campus, reaffirmed plans to hire 100 interdis-
ciplinary faculty in addition to regular hiring plans and
announced a forum that will focus on a new transportation
system between North and Central campuses. These plans
will be debated on campus, but the fact they are even pos-
sible is impressive.
The University continues to grow, hire and expand,
despite the state's collapse.
The state has cut funding to the University by 13 percent
in the past eight years, according to University statistics.
As the state shrinks and runs out of stimulus money, the
cuts will accelerate. The governor is already talking about
20-percent state budget cuts next year. In the past 50 years,
the state's proportion of the University's general fund has
gone from 78 percent to 22 percent.
What is needed now - either in Coleman's next few years
as president, or from her successor if she retires - is to take
advantage of our relative strength and develop a creative
vision for the University's future.
As Coleman said in her speech, now is a time to be aggres-
sive and attract faculty who, not long, ago would have looked
to the Ivies or the University of California. Because of a state
meltdown, the University of California will now see tuition
increases of 32 percent over two years and cuts to faculty
But let's not kid ourselves.
The University of Michigan's administration has long
been coy about admitting to decreases in quality of educa-
tion, but University of California President Mark Yudof
reports larger class sizes and "rapidly diminishing" course
availability in his system. At our University, between 2003
and 2008, student credit hours per full-time faculty and
staff member increased 5.3 percent, accordingto University
statistics. If I were a student, I wouldn't be shocked to be
running into more adjunct professors in larger classes.
The University could continue on its current path, trudg-
ing through the budget process every year. It could continue
asking students and their families to pay higher tuition to
make up for a portion, but not all, of the state cuts - which
basically asks them to pay more for an education of declining
caliber. But as quality erodes and the cuts make the Univer-
sity poorer, there won't be enough money available to fulfill
the dual aspiration of providing what the University's lon-
gest-serving president James Angell, called "an uncommon
education for the common man."
At some point, it won't make sense to come here - even
at in-state tuition rates. And not long into that decline, the
private universities' endowments will recover. Will a Uni-
versity of Michigan that charges a bunch of students from
wealthy families even higher tuition rates for a lower-qual-
ity education be worth it? Why not just go to Northwestern
After writing the first history of the University in 1875,
Andrew Ten Brook said of the University, "May those who
have its management never allow it to lose its prestige by
standing still to contemplate and proclaim the wonderful
successes which it has already achieved."
The University's leaders have followed that advice in the
past. The University's first president, Henry Tappan, envi-
sioned the University as the nation's first research univer-
sity. Angell explained the connection between access and
excellence. Marion Burton, president during the 1920s,
envisioned a massive university that combined size and
The University needs a strong vision now, and the stakes
are high. What's at stake is whether a high caliber educa-
tion will be reserved for a small number of people at private
schools or whether the public deserves access to an educa-
tion of similar caliber.
What's needed is a pioneering academic vision that
is supported by a new financial model, not just a fund-
ing mechanism that balances the books every year. Such a
vision will take years to develop, but it should be based on
the school's historic strengths: broad access, size, diversity,
social engagement and the connection between research
and teaching. Without more public support, one plan might
include a marriage between higher tuition, higher quality
and more financial aid.
The proximity to Detroit and the potential explosion of
green technology makes the environment a logical area of
focus for the University, a point Coleman recognized in
her speech. The University could also be a leader in the
future of information with its support of Google Books
and its role in the development of the Internet. It is also
time for an intense focus on academic quality: lowering
full-time, tenured faculty-to-student ratios, shrinking
class sizes and setting high academic standards for both
faculty and students.
The University has long been a trailblazer in the world of
higher education. It must now innovate again, or it will find
itself in a funk in which the books balance but quality goes
down, tuition goes up and a national treasure becomes just
Jason Pesick is a Law student and a
former editor in chief of the Daily.
Rikav Chauhan, Nathan Hamilton, Allison
Reid and Qianli Song Angela Koonce
The Daily is looking fora diverse group of strong, informed, passionate
writers to be columnists for the winter semester. Columnists write a
700-800 word column every other week on a topic of their choosing.
If you are an opinionated and talented writer, consider applying.
E-MAILRACHELVANGILD R ATRACHELVG@UM H.EDU FORMORE INFORMATION.,