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December 07, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-12-07

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4A - Monday, December 7, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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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.
QW1Zdom fal s
University should replace faulty, frustrating device
t can be difficult for University professors in large classes to
get students to participate. So when the Qwizdom - an inter-
active remote control used to survey and quiz students - was
introduced to University classrooms in 2007, there was potential
for this device to strengthen student-teacher interaction in packed
lecture halls. But after two years of use in the classroom, faculty
and students are reconsidering its usefulness. The University is
right to look into replacing Qwizdom with a device that ensures a
greater degree of flexibility and reliability. But in doing so, teach-
ers should be more limiting of the role such devices play in stu-
dents' grades.


l mean, anonymously hitting
on hot professors feels so
lifeless with the cold, online
Wait. What?

Ho>w am l supposed tb draw
little hearts with arrows
through them=HOWI
Dude, you're crepr' }


Terry, enough is enough

everal weeks ago, the Dean's
Office at the College of LSA
requested all departments to
cut their budgets by
six percent over the
next three years.
Needless to .say,
department morale
is rather low.
My personal
morale dropped
even lower when 4.
I found out that a
GSI position I had PATRICK
applied for appears O'MAHEN
to have been cut
by LSA. I suppose
I should be proud
that I can save the University roughly
$9,000 next term by being unem-
ployed, but somehow the thought of
being unable to pay my rent dims my
But I'm being selfish, and I need to
be more of team player. After all, LSA
Dean Terry McDonald is a team play-
er-he got a $63,000 raise in 2008.
Terry, you're an inspiration for all
of us. So I'm taking the torch from you
and challenging my colleagues in the
Department of Political Science to find
ways we can cut spending and increase
revenue to meet profit projections-er,
educational goals- this year.
For starters, let's start with how
we allocate office space. In the Politi-
cal Science Department, all GSIs get
office space. But we're only there for
eight to 10 hours a day. That means
that valuable space is unused more
than 60 percent of the time.
That's why I'm petitioning my
department chair, Chuck Shipan, to
mandate that GSIs find boarders for
their offices. Think of all the students

who are looking for cheap housing.
Charging them $10 a night to sleep on
our desks would bring in thousands
of dollars in revenue per month. We
could even have flexible options -
perhaps a monthly discount for long-
term boarders. I understand some
hotels turn quite a profit - and also
support local entrepreneurs - by
charging hourly rates.
But more efficient use of space is
only the start. We need to examine
how we use department and Universi-
ty resources. The obvious targets are
to cut copying and printing costs and
make faculty and staff pay for their
own staples. But these simple mea-
sures won't close a six-percent hole in
the budget. We need to think bigger.
We don't just consume the depart-
ment's paper and staples - we wear
down its floor, smudge its walls, con-
sume its water supply and breathe
its air. We need to be mindful of
this consumption. One way to raise
departmental revenue and help the
environment would be to assess indi-
vidual carbon taxes on faculty, staff
and students for exhaling carbon
dioxide. Professors known' for their
loquaciousness will be charged extra.
(You know who you are.)
Or we could steal an idea from the
Ohio Turnpike: toll booths. We'll put
them up-in front of the elevators and
department stairwells. If we charged
per person, we could enhance cash
flow by charging pregnant women a
pro-rated toll depending on how far
along gestation is. Erecting toll gates
in front of the restrooms could also
be a big cash earner, not to mention
charging for toilet paper. Why not
make it a quarter per flush? Rais-
ing the prices on feminine products

might be a real revenue spinner.
of course, these departmental
ideas will get us only so far. All of us
need to step up and take our share
of cutbacks. Personnel costs make
up much of the University's budget.
When the Lecturers' Employees
Organization starts negotiations this
January, I advise them to take one
for the team and be sensitive to LSA's
plight. After all, lecturers don't need
health insurance as much as admin-
istrators do, right? Please, be reason-
able, LEO.
The rich get
richer while the
poor get fired.
And that's my point. I understand
we need to make some cuts. But when
I'm struggling to find a job and see
people hurting around me - gradu-
ate students scrambling for funding,
janitors paying more for their health
care and lecturers waiting in vain for
the University to value their services
- I really don't have much sympathy
when I don't see cuts at the top.
Come on, Political Science depart-
ment, let's do our part. imagine how
great we'll all feel when we're able
to meet our efficiency goals and the
Board of Regents approves another
20-percent raise for Terry McDonald
in reward for his outstanding leader-
- Patrick O'Mahen can be
reached at pomahen@umich.edu.


According'to the Daily, LSA Student Gov-
ernment and the faculty-run Instructional
Support Services said they're looking into
replacing the Qwizdom, a device that stu-
dents can use to answer questions the pro-
fessor asks in lectures. The search started
after students and faculty reported numer-
ous complaints about Qwizdom's techni-
cal malfunctions and incompatibility with
Apple and Windows software. University
faculty also noted difficulty using multime-
dia and Qwizdom at the same time, and neg-
ative student feedback also encouraged the
search for an alternative device. Represen-
tatives from LSA-SG and ISS said they are
considering two new options, the iClicker
and Turning Technology. According to ISS,
these systems are compatible with both Mac
and PC computers and run more smoothly
than Qwizdom.
There are many good reasons to replace
Qwizdom with better technology. The fact
that professors are unable to incorporate
other forms of media like video and audio
clips while using Qwizdom is certainly
grounds for replacing it. Professors should
feel encouraged to modernize their lectures
with multimedia, and the University needs
software that permits this. In addition, the
new devices are less likely to malfunction,
and will ultimately cause students and facul-
tyless frustration overtheir usage. As long as
they are affordable for students, one of these
new devices should replaced Qwizdom.

But whether the University replaces
Qwizdom or not, it's important to realize
that the device's major failing is not just its
technological problems, but also the fact that
it's often used as an attendance-taking pop
quiz. Using this technology to compel atten-
dance in lectures and base students' grades
on answers to rapid-fire multiple choice
questions shouldn't be classroom policy. if
teachers want students to come to class, they
should be presenting interesting, engaging
lectures covering material that will be tested
through papers and exams. Using Qwizdom-
like devices to require attendance sidesteps
this responsibility.
Legitimately used, this technology should
serve as an interactive learning tool. Teach-
ers should use it to survey their students,
gather feedback and encourage participation
in lectures. But students' grades should not
be based on quick responses to these multiple
choice questions. Instead, teachers should be
grading on comprehensive answers that are
more likely to be found in regularly sched-
uled essays and exams.
But in a sense, such attempts at encour-
aging participation through new technol-
ogy only circle around the fact that many
classes have gotten too big, making interac-
tion between students and professors more
difficult. New technology shouldn't be used
to mask the fact that the University needs to
hire more teachers to lower the amount of
bodies in some classrooms if necessary.


Access to the American"'"DREAM

G.I. Joe deserves a beer

Last week, President Barack Obama called
for 30,000 additional troops to be deployed to
Afghanistan over the next seven months. Given
that many of these soldiers will be between 18
and 20 years of age, how is it that the drinking
age is still 21?
Accordingto the National Youth Rights Asso-
ciation, over 700 soldiers between the ages of 18
and 20 have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan
since March 2003. Apparently, G.I. Joe is good
enough to go to Iraq but not good enough to get
into a bar. At 18, we are able to enter contracts,
have an abortion and vote: We possess the matu-
rity to sit on a jury trial, convict people of murder
and sentence them to death. The law views those
above the age of 18 as adults. But a beer still isn't
'the Federal Highway Act of 1984 requires
states to adopt a minimum drinking age of 21 or
receive 10 percent less federal highway funding.
President Ronald Reagan thought alcohol-relat-
ed fatalities on American highways would be
reduced. In reality, his signature tied the hands
of the states and eviscerated the country's feder-
alist system. Yes, states have the right to deter-
mine the legal-drinking age. But let's be honest
- cash is king. State Budget planners would
rather fatten the states' coffers than let 18-year-
old adults enjoy a Guinness.
of course, the main argument for the law in
the first place was that it would save lives by
keeping drunk kids off the road. The National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration esti-
mates the increase in the minimum legal drink-
ing age saved 23,733 lives in twenty years. But
while a decreasing trend in fatalities is undeni-
able, the decline actually began in the early 1970s
- nearly a decade before the passage of the 1984
Act. Society was already beginning to see drunk
drivingwas unacceptable.
That was to due to the emergence of manda-
tory seatbelt laws and safer automobile stan-
dards - changes that contributed far more to the
decrease in fatalities than the drinking law. The
NHTSA contends the introduction of seatbelts
and airbags alone saved 206,287 lives between
1975 and 2004. More people were spared by
these safety technologies in 2002 and 2003 than
during the entire lifespan of the drinking law.

When we take a step back, we can see the
drinking policy is arbitrary. In most societies,
the right to consume alcohol coincides with the
age of adulthood, which is typically 18. In many
cases, these societies also allow minors to drink
under the supervision of adults. In the United
Kingdom, a 5-year-old can drink at home and a
16-year-old at sit-down meals. In Belgium, the
drinking age precedes the driving age. Informal,
social and cultural drinking allows adolescents
to become educated about alcohol. They learn
that drinking in moderation is natural and nor-
The United States is another story.
The World Health Organization reports 18
to 20-year-old Americans drink to the point of
intoxication in almost half of all drinking occa-
sions. Only 10 percent of the same age group do
this in Europe. Young adults in America aren't
just drinking, they're bingeing. Binge drinking -
consuming large quantities of alcohol in a short
period of time - is found to be the fashion in
which 90 percent of underage drinkers consume
alcohol, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Studies show the reasoning and judgment
portions of the brain don't fully develop until
the dge of 25. Then why is the age for activi-
ties requiring maturity only 18 or 21? One word:
education. When children begin to approach the
driving age, usually 16, they need to take a state-
mandated educational course and examination
before they are permitted to drive. Parental
supervision and instruction is a key component.
When kids turn 16, we don't simply throw them
the keys and say, "Hit the road." This would be
ludicrous. Yet, magically, at the age of 21, we tell
"real adults" to grab a bottle and go for it.
Is it fair that we hand G.I. Joe an assault rifle
but stick him with a Minor in Possession if he
holds a plastic red cup? Think of that word-
"minor." The age at which a child transitions
from "minor" to "adult" in the United States is
18, but we call these adults "minors" in drinking
situations. These minors are allowed to go to war
and vote, but holding a red plastic cup can stop
them from getting into law school or a top job.
Nothing could be more hypocritical.
Brian Hurd is a Public Policy junior.

Consider this scenario: There's thit cool guy ou sit
with in discussion section. You know his name and his
hometown. You know that he always comes five minutes
late to class because.he comes from the other side of cam-
pus, and you've laughed together while making snarky
comments about the GSI's verbal tics. He wants to gradu-
ate and go to medical school. He's going to make the Uni-
versity's Alumni Association really happy, buy premium
seats at the Big House and make his newborn kids wear
Wolverine onesies.
What if he turned to you tomorrow and told you that he
needed you to make his dream a reality? What if he told
you that you had the power to help him? Would you sup-
port him and fight for him?
He's an undocumented immigrant - he was born in
another country, and there are thousands of students like
him in the United States. In many cases, parents brought
students like him to the U.S. when they were children. He
may have grown up watching American television and
celebrating Thanksgiving. But when it's time to go to col-
lege, he either can't attend or needs financial aid.
If he graduates from college, he then learns that no U.S.
citizenship means he can't actually work in the country.
So he's told to go back to the country he left as a child and
can barely remember.
At the University, we've answered his kind of call
before. During the civil rights movement, students led
protests and fought for a more inclusive campus. Ann
Arbor is the kind of place where we should fight for the
rights of our classmates - brotherhood is not just for
football games.
In October of 2007, this dream alinost became a reality

for these students. The Development, Relief and Educa-
tion for Alien Minors Act would provide a path to citizen-
ship for those who arrive in the country before the age
of 16 and obtain at least two years of higher education or
two years of military service. In other words, the DREAM
Act is the change that undocumented immigrant students
across the country desperately need.
It gained 52 votes in the Senate, just 8 short of the
filibuster-proof margin it needed to move forward. Not
approving this legislation was an inexcusable and cow-
ardly act, and those missing 8 votes shattered the dreams
of thousands of students - students that are just as quali-
fied to gain an education as any other American.
Thankfully, the DREAM Act was reintroduced to
Congress this year. In hopes of its passage, more than
a dozen groups, including university clubs, academic
departments, local retailers and community-based orga-
nizations, are coming together to host a series of events
this week. We invite you to join with your friend at 6:30
p.m. tonight in Angell Hall Auditorium D for a workshop
on the DREAM Act. We also hope you can join us on
Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Angell Hall Auditorium C
for the first-ever Michigan screening of the riveting new
documentary film, "Papers."
So it's time to meet the challenge and help out a friend.
You can choose to "meekly live, going slow, slow, slow" (in
Langston Hughes's words), or you can pick up the pace,
make a phone call and sign the petition. Your friend's
dream can't wait.
This viewpoint was submitted by Samantha Nawrocki
on behalf of Migrant and Immigrant Rights Awareness.

The notion that we would even
consider spending trillions of
dollars we don't have in a way,
that the majority of Americans
don't even want is proof that...
... you're a massive hypocrite.


Nina Amilineni, Emily Barton, Jamie Block, William Butler, Ben Caleca, Nicholas Clift,
Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya,
Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith

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