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March 15, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-03-15

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4A - Monday, March 15, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
E-MAIL BELLA AT BELLZ@ UMICH.EDU

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

BELLA SHAH

JACOB SMILOVITZ
EDITOR IN CHIEF

RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

MATT AARONSON
MANAGING EDITOR

wt I ltkeau 5{' ' _ "Cee e.
\ t)dt
The right nerdfor the job

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.
Site not found
MSA's website mismanagement violates trust
t's hard to know where to even begin discussing the Michi-
gan Student Assembly's most recent disappointment. Last
week, MSA President Abhishek Mahanti announced that
MSA had drastically exceeded its budget to repair and update its
website, which has long been in need of update. MSA spent an
appalling $9,000 on graphic and web designers, though it bud-
geted only $3,000 for the project. Not only did MSA mismanage
its funds, it isn't even using the website it spent $9,000 attempt-
ing to fix. MSA has failed to justify the trust that students place
in it to spend their money wisely, and it has a responsibility to
monitor its use of funds more closely in the future.

On Monday, Jim Brusstar, MSA's stu-
dent general counsel, sent an e-mail to
MSA representatives that said that MSA
had overspent its website redesign budget
by about $6,000. At the MSA meeting on
Tuesday, Mahanti took responsibility for
the mistake, saying that he was unaware
of how many hours designers had spent
working on the website. He apologized
to the assembly and promised to fix the
problem. He said that the website, which
he has been leading efforts to repair since
April, had more problems than he and the
web designers were capable of fixing. That
website has since been abandoned. Brus-
star has now been placed in charge of the
project. MSA Engineering Representative
Kyle Summers built the site that MSA is
currently using for free, according to Sum-
mers.
Mahanti's excuses and apologies have
come too late. To be entirely clear, MSA
spent $9,000 of the money it gets from
students on a product that, despite hours
of work, failed to function correctly. It
essentially spent $9,000 on nothing. And
since the website currently in use - which
is functional, if admittedly simple - was
created for free, it's suspect that MSA
originally budgeted $3,000 for the project
in the first place. The amount of money
that was wasted on the failed website is
absurd.
Allocating funding to student groups
is MSA's primary responsibility, so it's
alarming that the organization so dra-
matically failed to manage its own financ-
es. While the assembly did dole out more
money to student groups this semester
than ever before, that money still comes
from students and most be used properly
in all situations. Students should be able to
trust the student government to respon-
sibly handle the money they contribute.
MSA's failure to manage students' money
has violated the trust between the assem-

bly and the students it serves.
Much of the responsibility for this mess
falls squarely on Mahanti. MSA's web-
site has been a consistent problem over
the years, and a number of MSA presi-
dents have campaigned on promises to
fix it - Mahanti chief among them. And
as a computer science engineering major,
Mahanti should have been uniquely quali-
fied among MSA representatives to actu-
ally make good on the promise. But this
fiasco is representative of a much larger
problem. The oversight of big projects is a
central part of Mahanti's position as presi-
dent. Mahanti's failure to manage a project
for which he took personal responsibility
calls into question his ability to lead MSA.
But the rest of MSA must share some of
the blame for this debacle. MSA represen-
tatives should have questioned the lag in
progress on the website, which was sup-
posed to have been ready for use in the fall.
Had the lack of results been challenged
earlier, the excess costs of labor may have
been noticed sooner. But there was no
oversight from the assembly, and so the
problem was unaddressed for months as
the costs piled up.
MSA exists to improve student life on
campus, and the assembly has repeatedly
failed at fulfilling this role. This event is
sure to stick in students' memories, along
with the meeting last year when MSA
wasted hours discussing a resolution on
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, over which
it has no jurisdiction. Pledges to work with
the Ann Arbor City Council to improve
off-campus lighting continue to go unful-
filled. The failed website is a testament to
MSA's ongoing incompetence.
At the end of the day, this project was
simply a disaster. And MSA has a respon-
sibility to students to make sure that simi-
lar failures don't happen in the future.
Students trust MSA with their money, and
MSA must pay students back with results.

'd seen Ann Arbor business-
man Rick Snyder's TV ads for
his gubernatorial run for sev-
eral weeks, but I
had tuned him out
entirely - I just
don't believe elec-
tions are some-
thing we should
be perpetually
worried about.
Over spring break,A
I finally took the
time to tune into IMRAN
the hype. SE
Snyder wore SYED
me down. While
the Republican
primary in which Snyder is among a
handful of strong candidates is still
months away, I can't deny any lon-
ger that this upcoming gubernatorial
election is Michigan's most impor-
tant in recent memory, and Snyder is
more than just an instigator - he's a
game changer.
As the earliest, and easily the most
eager participant in this race, it's easy
to dismiss Snyder as a distraction
rather than an attraction - like, say,
Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul in the
last presidential election. His "one
tough nerd" ads do have all the mak-
ings of a sham, but Michigan's vot-
ers have nothing to lose by tuning in.
And so I did.
Snyder claims to be different from
the established politicians that oth-
erwise populate the field on hope-
fuls for both major parties in this
election. In that, he is being entirely
truthful. Republicans Mike Cox and
Peter Hoekstra, and Democrats Virg
Bernero and Andy Dillon - the front-
runners of their respective parties
- are what we'd call career politi-
cians. While I disagree with Snyder
that that's always bad, given the dire
straits Michigan is in economically,
it's understandable that this state's
electorate has been outright apathet-
ic about this election as long as those

were the only names we heard.
But ever since Snyder has become a
prominent player, interest in the elec-
tion has deepened. Snyder has started
the right conversation, and I see that
as just as important an accomplish-
ment as actually becoming elected
and succeeding as governor. Snyder
has forced the other candidates to
abandon tired platitudes engrained in
traditional party platforms and begin
to talk about real concerns of the
people of this state - and believe me,
those have very little to do with how
a candidate feels about gay marriage.
Icmaintain that Ga. Jennifer Gra-
nholm's failures, especially over the
past couple of years, have been fail-
ures of circumstance. Nevertheless,
it's becoming harder and harder to
deny that she might have been the
wrong leader for the time. Snyder is
an accomplished businessman, who
may very well be exactly what this
state needs to lead it back toward
prosperity. Even so, it's important to
snoop a little deeper to understand
what this man really stands for. For
one thing, even Snyder's campaign
ads invite voters to do so. r
I looked through the mountain on
information on Snyder's campaign
website and was pleasantly surprised
to see that he actually seemed to have
done his homework. I think it's safe to
say that no student has to time to read
through all of the detailed "white
papers" on his website outlining the
candidate's full plans for issues like
regulatory reform, youth retention
in the state, the environment and the
state's education system. So, I decid-
ed to pick out and read through one
white paper on a topic'that especially
interested me: the development and
revitalization of Michigan's central
cities.
Snyder certainly says all the right
things here. Asaresident of Michigan
who plans to stay in the state after
gettingmy law degree, Iwas happyto
see echoed in hiswhite paper many

of my own concerns. Many talented
young people come to this state to
receive a world-class education at
this University, and yet none of them
end up staying. The reason for this
is that there simply isn't the social,
business and commercial infrastruc-
ture in place in Michigan's cities
to attract young people who havea
choice about where to live and work.
Snyder might be
what Michigan's
economy needs.
That Snyder recognizes this prob-
lem is itself a huge first step, and
separates him by miles from his oppo-
nents in the Republican primary, who
remain tied to tired political games
of blaming the Democrats, blaming
Granholm, or better yet, blaming
President Barack Obama. But recog-
nizing isn't enough, because we've
heard Granholm talk about these
problems before too. The advantage
Snyder has is that he approaches the
state's problems as an outsider, who
is not tied to any traditional way of
political maneuvering. Where Gran-
holm had enough political capital to
talk and do nothing more, Snyder, if
elected, would have the mandate to
act as well.
Snyder wants Michigan's voters
to know that he is among those rare
people who will be the right leader at
the right time. Every candidate says
this, but reading into what Snyder
stands for, and knowing what I know
about the state's economic and social
atmosphere, I think there might be
something to what this guy says.
-Imran Syed can be reached
at galad@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor.
Letters should be fewer than 300 words and must include the writer's full name
and University affiliation. All submissions become property of the Daily.
We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.

0

Hailing even when it's not easy

LAURA VEITH I
Collaborative volunteering

Most students at the University spend
approximately eight months of the year on
campus. During this period, most of us, includ-
ing me, spend a significant amount of time
focused on our classes and schoolwork. And
while it is important to maintain a focus on our
education, we shouldn't forget about giving
back to the state that houses us for the major-
ity of the year - or even longer for in-state stu-
dents. As most students are aware, Michigan is
in a state of economic turmoil. With the state
budget suffering massive cutbacks - especially
in education - and the highest unemployment
rate in the country, students should take a
break from their studies and start helping out
our community.
Unfortunately, University service organiza-
tions are facing a similar plight. Though the
Daily reported that MSA intends to increase
the monetary funds given to student groups
this semester (MSA boosts fundingfor students
orgs this semester, 03/09/2010), many groups
still feel constrained. To combat this issue, sev-
eral community service organizations turned
their individual efforts into collaborative ser-
vice projects. Collaborative initiatives, like
K-nection and OneMichigan, bring together
multiple University service groups to promote
community service and attract volunteers to
participate in group projects.
Of course, student volunteers won't be able
to decrease unemployment or fix the budget,
but we can still contribute to the improvement
of the state and the University community.
With only six weeks left until the end of the
semester, now more than ever is an opportune
time for students to get involved in service
projects sponsored by programs like K-nection
and OneMichigan.
K-nection, which holds signups for service
projects today in Mason Hall, is an initiative
started by Do Random Acts of Kindness (more
commonly known as DoRAK), Circle K and
K-Grams. I've been a member of K-Grams over
a year. These groups, each of which individu-
ally focuses on different aspects of community
service, came together in January with the
concept of K-nection. According to K-Grams
Executive Director, Haley Gire, K-nection is

not only a way for the groups to save on the
cost of service projects, but also an opportuni-
ty to support the community service efforts of
other organizations. In an interview with me,
Gire noted, "With the increase in recent cuts to
school budgets and international catastrophes,
it seemed like the best time to start working
together."
This collaborative endeavor is an admi-
rable initiative by the three groups. In a time
of financial struggle, I find it rewarding to see
groups coming up with creative solutions to
their budgetary problems. Individually, these
three groups participate in a range of service
projects that contribute to the improvement of
the University and state. Now that the groups
are collaborating for a common cause, their
impact on the University community will be
even greater.
In addition to the benefit of this collab-
orative effort, K-nection allows the groups to
attract new volunteers and initiate new expe-
riences, which further add to the success of
their service projects. Students need to real-
ize the importance of this event and contrib-
ute to these community service organizations'
efforts to help the University and the state.
More students must recognize this potential
and get involved.
But K-nection is not the only organization on
campus that focuses on collaborative service
projects. On Apr. 9, OneMichigan plans to hold
a day honoring community service on the Diag.
With over 40 participating organizations, the
day will be devoted to educating and recruit-
ing students to their initiatives. The event will
also allow students to learn about the goals and
actions of the various community service clubs
and organizations on campus. Their attempt to
increase the support and awareness of service
projects in the community could prove to be
extremely important to their progress.
Students should attend and contribute to
these events in order to help improve and aid
the well-being of the University and the state.
We need to make the most of the eight months
we are here.
Laura Veith is a senior editorial page editor..

Inever thought I'd be leaving the
University knowing what it feels
like tobe a long-suffering fan.
Sure, that might
seem overly dra-
matic. After all,
it's only been
two years since n
the football team'
made a bowl game,
and the basketball e
team earned its
first NCAA Tour-
nament bid in COURTNEY
t1 years just last RATKOVIAK
season. But when
you're only at one
of the premier
sports schools in the nation for four
years, that time is too short to tol-
erate multiple mediocre seasons in
every major sport.
So when Ohio State's Evan Turner
made that ridiculous, 37-foot buzzer-
beater on Friday afternoon to knock
the Wolverines out of the Big Ten
Tournament and end their season,
another loss wasn't even heartbreak-
ing anymore.
All I could think was: Of course he
did that. Story of my senior year.
It's no secret that many students
choose to come here because of the
athletic tradition. And it's easy to feel
like this year, we've been robbed of
the chance to experience that win-
ning feeling that's supposed to define
students' time at the University.
But for some overly optimistic rea-
son, I still kept buying tickets to bas-
ketball and hockey games this winter.
That's because I knew that regardless
of the games' outcomes, my experi-
ence as a University student would
have been much less fulfilling if I
hadn't been there in the stands.
And that's why it was only natural
that one day after Turner's demoral-
izing shot, a friend and I decided to
drive to East Lansing and watch yet

another Michigan team that has failed
to meet expectations all year. The trip
felt like a good idea as soon as Michi-
gan scored two goals partway through
the first period. But then the Wolver-
ines allowed three quick Spartan goals
to fall behind at the first intermission.
All I could think was: Ofcourse they
did that. Story of my senior year.
But this time, Michigan decided to
fight back - and pulled out a 5-3 win.
As the large Michigan contingent
stayed in the Munn Ice Arena stands
long past the end of the game, chant-
ing, "It's great to be a Michigan Wol-
verine," I knew that's why Ihave kept
watching the disappointments - for
the feeling of those few successes.
My friend that went with me to
Saturday's game has never'held sea-
son tickets at Yost and doesn't con-
sider herself a diehard hockey fan. But
when we decided to go to Michigan
State on Saturday, she easily shelled
out the $25 for a ticket and drove 120
miles round trip to go see them.
When I asked her why she wanted
to go, she was taken aback, like it was
a stupid question. And her reason was
simple.
"I'm a senior," she said. "I had a
chance to see one of our teams find
success, and I wanted to be a partof it."
That's the exact same reason anoth-
er one of my friends gave after we con-
vinced her to go to the outdoor Camp
Randall Hockey Classic game back in
February. The trip to Madison was
more expensive and a lot farther away
than East Lansing, and she decided to
go even though she can only name two
players on the current hockey roster.
The weather was frigid, we couldn't
see what was happening on the ice
even though we were in the third row
of seats, and we wandered around
Madison for a half hour after the game
trying to figure out where we had
parked. By the time we finally found
our car and escaped the elements,
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:

she was numb, near tears and having
absolutely no fun.
But she knew that part of the fun-
damental idea of being a Michigan.
student means going to sporting
events and learning about our teams
- even if those teams end up disap-
pointing us in the end.
I used to think only
Lions fans were
long-suffering.

0

"Whether or not I really enjoy
hockey, it didn't matter," she says now,
a month and a half later. "That's not
what I was going for. I enjoy going to
Michigan sporting events, regardless
of how they're actually doing."
That statement was pretty pow-
erful, especially during this painful
2009-10 season in Michigan sports.
But it proved to me what many more
students who only attend home foot-
ball games need to discover before
they graduate - we only have four
years to experience the most defining
part of a Michigan education.
Even when our teams are lousy,
there's nothing more uniquely maize
and blue than driving to another
school, wearing Michigan colors
proudly and singing "The Victors" as
the other team's fans file out of the
building. And that's why even though
the hockey team is a massive under-
dog heading into Friday's game at Joe
Louis Arena, I'll be there - just in
case. Because that's what University
students do.
- Courtney Ratkowiak was the Daily's
managing editor in 2009. She can be
reached at cratkowi@umich.edu.

0

Nina Amilineni, Jordan Birnholtz, William Butler, Nicholas Clift, Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty,
Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith,
Brittany Smith, Robert Soave, Radhika Upadhyaya, Laura Veith

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