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April 07, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-04-07

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4A - Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

N IC igan Baly
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


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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.
Efficient emissions
Automakers must adapt to new EPA regulations
Clean air doesn't need to be expensive. And it won't be under
new federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Last
week, the Environmental Protection Agency, in response
to a directive by the Obama administration, unveiled new federal
rules that would limit emissions and set more stringent fuel econ-
omy standards for cars and trucks starting in 2016. The regula-
tions are expected to save the consumer about $4,000 in gasoline
expenditures over the lifetime of a new vehicle. But more impor-
tantly, they are essential to the preservation of the environment.
Automakers should work aggressively to meet the long-overdue
standards by the government's deadline.

Banned discussion


On Thursday, the EPA and the U.S.
Department of Transportation released a
new set of regulations that would be the first
restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions
from automobiles and the largest increase in
fuel economy standards since their inception
in 1970. Under the new emissions standards,
passenger vehicle fleets are expected to aver-
age 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. Automo-
bile greenhouse gas emissions are expected
to fall 21 percent below current projected
levels by 2030 with the new regulation.
The new rules are crucial for the preser-
vation of the environment. The U.S. is one
of the largest polluters of greenhouse gases
in the world. And vehicles account for one-
fifth of American emissions, according to
an Apr. 1 editorial by The New York Times.
These emissions contribute to global warm-
ing by trapping heat inside the planet's
atmosphere and raising the temperature
of the earth. By restricting the amount of
these gases that are released into the atmo-
sphere through vehicle emissions, the gov-
ernment has demonstrated its commitment
to combat climate change. This will help set
a global standard and curb the damage of
global warming and pollution.
Higher fuel economy standards will help
Americans save money. Like many environ-
mentally friendly initiatives, the initial cost
will be recouped in savings later on. The

initial cost of new vehicles will increase by
an EPA-estimated $985 for 2016 models,
but buyers will save around $4,000 on fuel
expenses in the long term, as reported in an
Apr. 2 Washington Post article. Spending
less on gas will leave consumers with more
disposable income to spend in other parts of
the economy.
This move was a necessary one for the
Obama administration. It set boundaries
for an industry known for prioritizing prof-
its over the environment. Automakers have,
until recently, been loath to respond to the
rising demand for more fuel-efficient cars.
But the vice president ofthe Alliance of Auto-
mobile Manufacturers, Gloria Berquist, has
called the new requirement a "roadmap for
future fuel-economy increases." While it's
encouraging that automakers are on board
with the new regulations, the rules should
be seen as a guide for the future development
of the automotive industry.
The new regulations will lower green-
house gas emissions that are dangerous for
the environment, and come with.the bonus
of saving consumers money. Automakers
must show their dedication to a cleaner
environment and their patrons by work-
ing diligently to meet4he new regulations
by 2016. And the Obama administration
should continue to ensure proper enforce-
ment of the regulations.

've learned much in the two
weeks since my letter to the Uni-
versity's president (Dear Presi-
dent Coleman...,
03/25/2010). First,
I learned that Uni-
versity President
Mary Sue Cole-
man believes she's
my mother. Or at -
least she wants to
be. And who could
blame her? Just
look at that black ALEX
and white thumb-
nail photo. But she RILES
also wants to be
your mother. Cole-
man thinks she knows what's best for
our health, even though most of us
are competent adults capable of mak-
ing decisions and dealing with conse-
She's also a negligent mother to
the campus community. I attempted
to contact the University president
on numerous occasions, only to be
turned down every time. E-mail after
e-mail, I found it hard to believe that
I couldn't receive a 30-second reply
from Coleman, even if it was only
to shut me up. Every attempt was
followed by a response from some
member of the University's massive
bureaucracy directing me to some
other bureaucratic agency.
Our president's disregard calls into
question her priorities. It amazes me
that President Barack Obama has
directly reached out and written per-
sonal letters to citizens more than our
University president has addressed
student concerns. And although
Obama is certainly no Coleman, I'm
sure the man has a few things on his
plate - a health care bill to pay for,
two inherited wars and the largest
debt in American history, for starters.
This is merely a microcosm of
-the lack of transparency, absence of
student input and complete indif-
ference the University has shown to
the campus community in regard to

the smoking ban. The Smoke-Free
Initiative Steering Committee hasn't
granted the public any information on
its meetings. Not to mention that the
University hasn't ruled out develop-
ing a database to track students who
fail to adhere to the ban, according to
a Nov.12 Smoke-Free Initiative infor-
mation session. The steering commit-
tee ironically asked for student input
at two farcical "listening sessions"
yet refused to reconsider any part of
the initiative, despite being offered
common sense alternatives, like more
pronounced enforcement of the cur-
rent ban, the establishment of smok-
ing zones or a vote by the University
Granted, some of Coleman's rea-
sons for the Smoke-Free Initiative
are likely motivated by good inten-
tions like lowering the University's
health care costs. But these justifica-
tions are severely compromised by
her compensation from a corporation
that will likely benefit from the smok-
ing ban. Coleman sits on the board
of directors for Johnson & John-
son, from which she earned nearly a
quarter of a million dollars in 2009,
and holds 11,159 shares of common
stock, 10,777 shares of common stock
equivalent units and 7,600 exercis-
able stock options in the company.
Johnson & Johnson is the producer
of a host of nicotine replacement
products, including Nicoderm and
Nicorette. Coleman explains, "the
University will offer free behavioral
sessions and selected over-the-coun-
ter smoking cessation products to
faculty and staff, along with co-pay
reductions for prescription tobacco
cessation medicines (and) discounts
on tobacco cessation aids."
In other words, under the proposed
Smoke-Free Initiative, the Univer-
sity would subsidize products made
by Johnson & Johnson. The Univer-
sity would purchase more nicotine
replacement products, likely resulting
in financial gains for Johnson & John-
son and, consequently, Coleman.

Another thing I've realized is that
most people I talk to are against the
smoking ban. This is particularly true
after I explain what the ban specifi-
cally entails. I've managed to convert
at least a dozen individuals who pre-
viously favored the ban with sweet
reason. When I explain to them that
it's an issue of individual choice, per-
sonal responsibility, lack of transpar-
ency and an unenforceable means
for the University administration to
claim campus is "smoke-free" and
continue to wave its twisted banner
of political correctness, they listen.
The smoking ban
shouldn't be only
Coleman's choice.


Our time at the University should
be spent embracing the privileges
and responsibilities of adulthood, not
avoiding them. In spite of Coleman's
negligence, she wants me to believe
that she's entitled to hold my hand
and protect me from her perceived
dangers of the real world. Coleman
can't continue to ignore the fact
that 1,373 students, faculty and staff
have signed a petition opposing the
smoking ban since Apr. 1. As a presi-
dent who claimed to be receptive to
"input from the campus community"
and "ensuring that the needs of our
University's varied constituents are
understood," she has failed dismally,
neglecting to take into account stu-
dent input and allow for communica-
tion between the administration and
campus community. Before Coleman
tries to force any "culture of health"
on us, she should address her own
culture of conflicting interests.
- Alex Biles can be reached
at jabiles@umich.edu. 1

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

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. 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.


Gold's 'Worship' cartoon
makes offensive comparison
Daniel Gold's cartoon is such a pitiful com-
mentary to see for one of Christianity's holi-
est times (Weekend of worship, 04/02/2010).
Remembering that Jesus Christ died on a cross
and rose to life offering the gift of eternal life
to those who believe in him, comparing Good
Friday and the story of redemption with Hash
Bash and the story of human depravity and self-
worship, is an offensive comparison. Calling it a
weekend of worship and making the connection
between worshipping God on Good Friday and
worshipping something other than God for the
so-called great Hash Bash Saturday, through
a play on words, comes across as a cheap hit
at something and Someone many of us hold as
sacred. Jesus died for the sins of the world -
and what happens during Hash Bash proves that
the world needs to be saved.
Douglas Keasal
U should compromise by
selling smoking permits
In recent weeks, Daily columnists Rob-
ert Soave and Alex Biles have condemned the
University's campus-wide smoking ban as an
assault on personal liberty (Coleman's smok-
ing gun, 04/06/2010, Dear President Coleman...,
Though I agree that the ban is illiberal and
paternalistic, it also seems unfair that non-smok-
ers mustpay higher health care costs to subsidize
smokers' poor decisions. Instead of issuing an
outright ban on smoking, the University should
sell on-campus smoking permits. With a nation-
ally renowned public health school, the Universi-
ty should be able to estimate how much smoking
would increase an individual's health care costs
over the period of a semester, and this would be
the cost of a permit. Purchasers of the permit
would be able to smoke in designated areas on
campus and could present their permit to any
DPS officer. Anyone smoking on campus without
a permit would receive a sizable fine, the fees of
which would go toward administrative costs for
the program.
The selling of permits is preferable to both the
upcoming ban and the status quo. Though the
ban will restrict personal liberty, not having a

ban forces responsible, intelligent people to indi-
rectly bankroll smokers by paying higher health
care costs. Issuing permits would allow individ-
uals to make personal decisions, but would also
put the onus on them to pay forthe consequences.
Matthew Brunner

Less work more play

Ban prote
from secoi

cts non-smokers
nd hand smoke

As debate on the campus-wide smoking ban
heats up, Daily columnists Alex Biles and Robert
Soave have added to the discussion (Dear Presi-
dent Coleman..., 03/25/2010, Coleman's smoking
gun, 04/06/2010). Soave has questioned Presi-
dent Mary Sue Coleman's allegiance to Johnson
& Johnson, among other corporations. I would
like to take the time to tell you why I fully sup-
port the smoking ban.
Soave and Biles have ignored the fact that
smoking is terrible for everyone involved. As a
student going into the health care field, I see the
burden smoking puts on society and health care
facilities on a daily basis. The Environmental
Protection Agency published a report in 2008
outlining the burden smoking places on society,
citing 440,000 preventable deaths and $150 bil-
lion in health care costs annually.
Some people, including Biles and the College
Libertarians, have also argued that the ban is
an infringement on personal rights, stating they
have the "right" to smoke. I would argue that
they have no right to make me inhale second
hand smoke, thus putting me at risk for health
related problems later in life. The EPA and Cen-
ters for Disease Control have said that second
hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemi-
cal compounds, including ammonia and carbon
monoxide, a poison to the human body. Second
hand smoke has also been classified as a carcino-
gen, or cancer causing agent, since 1992.
As a non-smoking student, I continually am
upset by walking into a bar (a public place) or
simply down the sidewalk and being engulfed
by someone's second hand smoke. Second hand
smoke causes coughing, phlegm, chest discom-
fort and reduced lung function in non smokers,
not to mention the need for a shower. It's one
thing if you want to smoke the cancer stick on
your own, it's another if you make me. So the
next time you're walking on campus and you get
a whiff of smoke, think of Coleman and the poli-
cies protecting students livinga healthy lifestyle.
A.J. Humes
Nursing senior

recently heard someone remark
that the U.S. school system -
specifically elite private schools
and public schools
for gifted stu-
dents - operates
on a model that
demands a high
level of perfor-
mance but not
necessarily a high
level of learning.
I am inclined not
only to think this BRITTANY
is true but also to
assert that this is SMITH
one of the major
problems in Amer-
ican education deserves immediate
Schoolchildren today are pushed to
be the ultimate Renaissance students
- acquiring book smarts, making con-
tributions to their communities, taking
up athletics if playing an instrument is
not an option and demonstrating lead-
ership outside of the classroom. I ques-
tion these measures of meritocracy. I
am concerned that schools are send-
ing a superficial message to students
"to do more." I am concerned that
"doing more" doesn't actually increase
the depth of education, even if it does
improve applications.
I remember the days of pulling
all-nighters in high school, studying
late nights for my Advanced Place-
ment classes, going to Borders to buy
books to prepare for the AP exams and
searching for ways to raise my GPA
a few decimal points. But now that I
reflect on my high school years - spe-
cifically, my junior and senior years -
I can acknowledge that the desire tobe
the best student academically induced
anxiety and, consequently, extracur-
ricular activities didn't concern me as
much. Institutions of higher learning
and now selective high schools have
created an admissions process that
only adds to this pressure by using
standardized tests as gatekeepers.

But I am critical of schools that use
standardized test scores as indica-
tors of a student's ability to thrive in
his or her school. A standardized test
measures a student's test-taking skills
and not that students' comprehension
of the material. Though widely used,
test scores are a superficial means of
assessing a student.
I seethis probleminnewlyproposed
federal standards as well. As much as
I love President Barack Obama and
his policies, I suspect that the stan-
dards created for his Race to the Top
program, an initiative in which states
compete for financial support from the
federal government, may merit a posi-
tion in "Race to Nowhere" - the name
of a documentary film that spells out
the problems of pressuring youth to be
high-achievers. In "Politics and Pars-
nips: Obama's Common Core," Susan
Ohanian of The New York Times
details the requirements that states
like Michigan have to meet to compete
for funds under Race to the Top.
According to Ohanian, in order for.
states to be eligible for aid, they must
commit to the Common Core Stan-
dards document, which contains the
Exemplar Text list as an appendix.
According to Ohanian, the Exemplar
Text includes books like Jane Austen's
"Pride and Prejudice" as required
reading for the an eleventh grader
and William Wordsworth's "Preface
to Lyrical Ballads" for a ninth grader.
Obama wants students to have a firm
grasp of a variety of classical litera-
ture. Though I understand that many
of the titles on the Exemplar Text list
demand high performance from stu-
dents, I am not sure how much stu-
dents will actually benefit since the
list is so extensive.
Obama's Race to the Top program
encourages the overachiever mental-
ity that has contributed to the stress
of high school students vying for
limited seats in the nation's top-tier
institutions. Obama's policy is con-
nected to the cultural issue of over-

working our children in the name
of academic rigor. Or is the aim of
Obama's policy for American stu-
dents to be exposed to the breadth of
classical literature and not necessar-
ily its depth? That would be another
example of embracing a superficial
standard of education. It pushes stu-
dents to know and do more but not
necessarily to learn more.

Our culture
is too focused
on grades.


Colleges and universities have an
image of a high-performing student
that expensive private schools and
competitive public schools strive to
produce. More often than not, this
standard doesn't promise the engage-
ment of the student's learning and
understanding of material. But it is
daunting and creates a high-stress
environment that leads students to
equate how successful they are with
the prestige of the high school, col-
lege or university to which they are
But it's not the fault of the stu-
dent, parent or even Obama that
this environment exists. Instead,
the problem is the culture that has
been created with the permission
of parents, schools and the govern-
ment. This culture needs to change.
As remarked by a contributor of
the documentary film, "The Race
to Nowhere," if the United States is
going to "get off this treadmill" of
measuring greatness by test scores,
then "we're going to have to get off of
it together."
- Brittany Smith can be reached
at smitbrit@umich.edu.

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