4 - Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
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the University of Michigan since 1890.
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The percentage of stu-
dents at the University in
the 2008-2009 academic
year who took out direct
- According to calculations based on University financial aid and enrollment numbers for 2008-2009.
The (unprovable) facts)of life
EDITOR IN CHIEF
RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE 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.
Lending education a hand
U.S. Senate must save financial aid overhaul bill
When searching for loans for school, many students
look to private lenders. But a proposal before the U.S.
Senate could make the federal government students'
first option. The proposal would dramatically reorganize the
way the federal government finances student loans. It would sig-
nificantly expand a federal direct-lending program while ending
subsidies for private lenders. The bill has been tied to the health
care reconciliation bill after it appeared that it wouldn't have the
votes to make it through the Senate on its own. But regardless of
how the bill becomes law, Congress must secure the future of the
nation's students by passing this legislation.
The bill to overhaul student loans is
a version of the Student Aid and Fiscal
Responsibility Act, which was passed the
U.S. House of Representatives in Septem-
ber. It will end federal payments to private
lenders and replace these subsidies with a
government-run lending service called the
Federal Direct Student Loan Program. It
will also increase the individual Pell Grant
cap to $5,550 for the coming academic
year. Private student loan companies and
banks have protested the plan.
It's imperative that the government act
to make education more affordable and
accessible. As tuition is increased nation-
wide - it rose by 5.6 percent last year
alone here at the University - a college
education is becoming increasingly out
of range for those hit hard by the strug-
gling economy. But increased higher edu-
cation is essential to the sustainability of
a healthy economy. And though private
lending companies won't benefit from the
bill, the importance of students' access to
higher education should be paramount to
the interest of middlemen.
The federal government should do every-
thing possible to make sure students receive
as much money as possible. This bill would
increase the amount of money available to
students by cutting out the middleman. The
overhaul would send money straight to stu-
dents rather than having it stall in private
lending programs. And the bill would funnel
more money directlyto loans and Pell Grants
- money that an increasing number of stu-
dents need to counter rising tuition.
The bill has been packaged with the
health care reconciliation bill in response
to Senate Democrats' concerns that they
wouldn't be able to overcome a filibuster
on the health care package. And the finan-
cial aid bill to itself faced some challenges
from senators from states that are home
to lending companies, according to a Mar.
11 report by The New York Times. Demo-
crats hope that tying the bills together may
secure the votes needed to pass both.
But it's not so important how the bill gets
passed - just that it does. Senators who
object to the bill should recognize that the
importance of education is more important
than the well-being of private lenders. And
if the Senate can't make this legislation a
reality as part of the health care reconcili-
ation bill, it must take action to make it law
under its own name.
Senators should place the importance of
education above their individual interests.
Education is vital to economic recovery,
and senators should ensure that the finan-
cial aid bill becomes law.
As you might expect, I'm a man
who loves to have an opinion.
The discussions motivated
by this love have
enriched my life,
and shaped me into
who I am today.
But, there are cer-
tain beliefs that 1
have gotten me in
trouble over the.
years. Mostly, these
are things I know
are true, but that I CHRIS
have little hope to OLWH
ever prove. Some KOSLOWSKI
are trivial, and oth-_
ers are questions
humanity has pondered forever. So,
get ready to love or hate me, because
these are my five undeniable, probably
improvable, truths of life.
1. You wouldfloat in apool ofchoco-
It seems simple to me, yet I've been
battling my friends over this truth
since high school. They say you would
sink like a stone in a swimming pool
full of pudding. Like quicksand, the
pudding would suck you down to a
terrifying,, albeit delicious, death. I
say, pudding is heavier than water.
If you can float in water, you can cer-
tainly float in pudding. It's simple
buoyancy. If the volume of puddingI
displace weighs more than me, I float.
I did the math on this once, but I still
couldn't convince my brethren of the
obvious truth. Not only would a pud-
ding pool be scrumptious, it would
not be the deathtrap like so many
2. God - or something - exists.
I don't think you even have to be
religious to believe this truth. Just
look at time and the universe. As
far as I know, they're both infinite.
I would dare even the most stalwart
atheist to look up at the stars on a
clear night and not be dazzled by the
mystery of how we came to be. Evolu-
tion explains a lot, but it doesn't tell
us where the original building blocks
came from. '
One little change in the infinite
history of time would've drastically
changed the present. If an infinite
string of events led to us being here,
as far as I'm concerned, our exis-
tence is impossible. Only one thing
can make the impossible possible,
and I don't really care if you call it
God, Yahweh, Vishnu, or the Flying
Spaghetti Monster. I have faith in my
concept of God, but I know that some-
thing is out there.
3. No matter how successfulyou are,
you will never be as cool as Samuel L.
I've got a confession to make. I
own a Rangol (that's a kind of hat -
Google it for a picture), and whenever
I wear it, I look into the mirror and
hope that I look a fraction as cool as
Samuel L. Jackson. I don't even come
close. In over 100 movies, Jackson
has been eaten by a shark, eaten by a
Velociraptor, almost eaten by snakes
and killed by Emperor Palpatine. Oh,
and he was Shaft. Shaft. What makes
Jackson cooler than Brad Pitt, Mor-
gan Freeman or Gerald Butler? I real-
ly don't know. I could be a billionaire.
I could be the president of the United
States. I could even be a famous actor.
But, I will never reach the level of
pure, unadulterated cool that Sam-
uel L. Jackson feels even when he's
brushing his teeth. And, guess what?
You won't either.
4. Disagreement means someone is
This is especially true of our elect-
ed representatives. The most over-
rated idea constantly tossed around
in politics is compromise. Unless my
life, liberty or my ability to pursue
happiness is in jeopardy, I want my
representatives to fight for what their
constituents think is right. I love get-
ting negative responses to my col-
umns because it forces me to really
think about what I've written. Your
arguments are so encouraging to me
because they are evidence that what
I write inspires people to articulate
their own opinions. The United States
owes its existence to people who dis-
agreed with the British government.
Almost every major social and tech-
nological advancement started with
people who weren't satisfied with
the status quo. Disagreement can be
scary, but if handled responsibly, it
can benefit all parties involved.
Samuel L. Jackson
is cooler than you
will ever be. Ever.
5. Tryihg is the first step towards
I thank Homer Simpson for this
nugget of truth. So many problems
in the world could be eliminated
if people understood that failure,
though not usually acceptable, is
always an option. Humans are wired
to constantly push the envelope of
possibility. often, wefail, but the les-
sons we learn from our failures help
us succeed in the future. Problems
arise when people take risks without
preparing for consequences if they
don't succeed. You can apply this to
everything from mountain climb-
ing to adjustable rate mortgages to
love and relationships. We shouldn't
let the prospect of failure scare us
away from taking chances, but we
shouldn't expect to feel invincible
forever. Tryingneverguarantees suc-
cess. But not trying guarantees you
will never succeed.
- Chris Koslowski can be-
reached at email@example.com.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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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.
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EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
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
NATHANIEL ELI COATS STYER I
MVP is M.I.A.
MVP is still committed to
TO THE DAILY:
Last year, the Michigan Vision Party cam-
paigned on restoring transparency, account-
ability and a focus on students to the Michigan
Student Assembly. Our image took a hit this
week when we learned that MSA President
Abhishek Mahanti spent $9,000 developing a
new website that was never used (MSA website
$6,000 over budget, 03/10/2010). This reckless
lack of oversight is irresponsible and unac-
ceptable. We appreciate Mahanti for being
transparent and accountable and for taking
full responsibility for this egregious error, but
we are outraged by his actions. While Mahan-
ti ran with MVP last spring, he chose to disaf-
filiate himself from us at the beginning of his
term. We have not claimed credit for any of his
While we have taken strides to increase
the accountability and transparency of MSA,
this debacle sheds light on structural short-
comings that still exist. MVP is committed
to ensuring that mistakes like this never
happen again. This is one of the reasons we
wholeheartedly endorse the new constitu-
tion, which includes increased checks and
balances between MSA and its executives,
as well as an impeachment option. MVP has
always stood for transparency and account-
ability and we will never back down from
Don't be fooled by accusations that attempt
to discredit our entire party's work to date on
the basis of an isolated incident committed
by an unaffiliated person. MVP members are
responsible for spearheading numerous ini-
tiatives, from the Block M in the Big House
stands and the upcoming concert to Go Blue,
Beat OSU week and MSA Mondays on the Diag.
To see what we plan on doing in the future and
share your own vision, check out our website
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Hate crimes exist in spite of
evidence of social progress
TO THE DAILY:
On Saturday I was followed and attacked
because of my rainbow umbrella, and on Mon-
day I was a Crime Note (Drunk harasses pass-
erby with rainbow umbrella, 03/15/2010).
As I entered South Quad carrying a rain-
bow umbrella, a man who seemed to be drunk
screamed at me that I was a "faggot" and then
followed me inside the building, continuing
to yell obscenities and intimidating words. It
was frightening and painful, but with the sup-
port of friends, I began to move past it.
And then I read about it in the paper Mon-
day morning in the Crime Notes section, an
area where I usually find innocuous, unseri-
ous, or funny accounts. To anyone who found
the description of the incident funny: It wasn't
funny to me when I was fearing for my safety.
It wasn'tjust about having a rainbow umbrella
and someone being drunk. It was about hate
and prejudice. It was about the essence of
(part of) who I am. I'm not sure how well that
was conveyed in the crime note.
I deeply appreciate that the Daily runs
many articles, viewpoints and editorials about
queer issues. However, it seems that the nar-
rative we often hear is one of moving LGBT
people from a "neutral" state, where they
may not lack some rights but things are basi-
cally okay, to a better place. Examples of this
include articles advocating same-sex mar-
riage or partner benefits, like an editorial
that ran in the Daily last week (Love is a legal
battlefield, 03/10/2010). But the hate I experi-
enced on Saturday should be a reminder to us
all that, while moving forward to full equality
is important, we aren't even at a neutral place
yet. Acts of hatred and discrimination hap-
pen to LGBT people all the time. Prejudiced
and ignorant people are everywhere - even
in Ann Arbor. As we fight for more rights, we
must also fight hate and oppression in all its
A year ago, as a leader of the College Democrats, I sat
on a committee that endorsed a slate of Michigan Student
Assembly candidates including those from the Michigan
Vision Party. The College Democrats endorsed MVP can-
didates on the promise they would make MSA account-
able, transparent and relevant to the needs of the student
body. Unfortunately, MVP's clouded vision of improving
campus through "small victories" has been overshad-
owed by massive failures of competency and responsibil-
ity in areas that directly affect the lives of students at the
It's not an overstatement to say that, for the past year,
MVP has been MIA.
MVP promised to deliver a new, innovative MSA web-
site. Last week, it was announced repairs to the MSA
website came with a nearly $9,000 price tag. I expected a
high quality product that would provide a dynamic forum
for students and student organizations to interact with
MSA and each other. However, the $9,000 website was
never debuted and was replaced by a free website created
by an MSA representative. Additionally, MVP debuted a
website that was poorly designed, confusing and a step
backward in functionality.
The $9,000 price tag is a heinous abuse of the money
every student pays to MSA in fees. Hours upon hours
were billed for a project that was behind schedule and
of subpar quality. MSA representatives were kept in the
dark on project costs and were only presented with the
$9,000 bill after the project was completed. MVP made
this website a signature issue during its 2009 campaign,
but its initial vision seems to have been clouded by a
severe lack of oversight and leadership.
Michigan students put a lot of trust in MSA to spend
their money wisely and mismanagement of funds is a
violation of that trust. MVP's first order of business
after their successful election last year was to remodel
the MSA chambers in the Michigan Union. This costly
renovation diverted both money and attention away from
critical issues, like tuition increases, during the summer
months. For the past year, MVP has pursued shortsighted
priorities such as this, which don't address issues that
truly matter to students.
We, as students, must reconsider other major expendi-
tures approved by MSA - like the $25,000 to bring Wale
to campus for a concert this year. While I am excited for
this concert, students are still required to pay for tickets
to an event that is essentially subsidized by our tuition
fees. Where was the transparency that MVP promised us
when they made this $25,000 decision? This question is
especially vital at a time when President Mary Sue Cole-
man is bracingus for tuition hikes.
An issue MVP touts as a success is the increase in stu-
dent organization funding, but the process remains too
complicated and shuts out many qualified applicants.
This year, only 37 percent of applicants were approved for
funding, as noted in a Feb. 24 Daily report. This statis-
tic should be reversed. The entire campus is hurt when
funding is denied and events that would have otherwise
enriched campus are weakened or canceled altogether.
MVP should focus on increasing funding for all organi-
zations, not just those who traditionally receive funding.
I find the negligence of basic follow-through on the
part of MVP astounding. For instance, the fall MSA elec-
tions were rescheduled to the days immediately following
Thanksgiving Break because the proper emails were not
sent out in time to notify the student body, violating the
MSA Compiled Code.
I was surprised when I read in a recent viewpointin the
Daily that MVP wishes to "continue fighting for students'
rights" (A continued vision for MVP 03/08/2010). For a
year, I have neither seen nor heard MVP leaders advocat-
ing on behalf of the issues most important for students. I
watched MSA crumble last summer in the face of tuition
hikes, and I have seen no MVP leadership focused on
fighting Coleman's predicted tuition increase. I am pay-
ing more out of pocket because my student government is
willing to accept what Coleman calls "modest" increases
in tuition (Coleman: 'U' tuition levels likely to rise next
year, 03/08/2010). The student body can no longer accept
even "modest" increases and neither should MSA.
I was hopeful last year that new MSA leadership would
reconnect the assembly with students and make it rele-
vant again on campus. MVP leadership has failed at every
level to follow through on those promises, from debut-
ing a new website to speaking out on student issues. It's
time for new leadership that is willingto take a stand and
truly put in the work needed to represent students at the
Nathaniel Eli Coats Styer is a Public Policy senior.
The Daily is looking for diverse, passionate, strong student writers
to join the Editorial Board. Editorial Board members are responsible
for discussing and writing the editorials that appear on
the left side of the opinion page.
E-MAIL RACHEL VAN GILDER AT RACHELVG@UMICH.EDU FOR MORE INFORMATION.
The letter writer is a Public Policy junior and Mitch Crispell
MVP presidential candidate LSA junior