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September 21, 2010 - Image 4

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4 - Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
E-MAIL ELAINE AT EMORT@UMICH.EDU

C 14 Nlct i an 4 at&IM
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

ELAINE MORTON

JACOB SMILOVITZ
EDITOR IN CHIEF

RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

MATT AARONSON
MANAGING 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.
Quality over quantity
'U' enrollment growth must benefit its students
W hen it comes to the University's student population, the
clichd that bigger is better isn't necessarily true. Uni-
versity President Mary Sue Coleman agrees. As campus
application and enrollment numbers increase, Coleman thinks that
the University should decrease the number of students it accepts.
Though the state economy will increasingly require workers with
advanced degrees, the University shouldn't make sacrifices to aca-
demic quality. Increases in the size of the student body have adverse
effects that the University should take into consideration. Though
growth will probably be necessary in the long term, the University
must maintain the quality of the education it provides.

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pd Anr<+ show. Ca~n I get ~
It's a sober world after all...

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According to a Jul. 5 report in the Uni-
versity Record, the University has seen
record-high application numbers every
year since the 2007-2008 academic year.
Another increase in applications is expect-
ed during this application cycle because the
University recently switched to the Com-
mon Application. The University expects
that the 2010 freshman class will number
6,300 - 300 more students than last year.
As reported by the Daily last week, Cole-
man said that the increase in students
wasn't planned and that the University has
been attempting to decrease enrollment
numbers in recent years, though it hasn't
always been successful. One of Coleman's
major concerns is maintaining the quality
of the education that students receive.
Higher education is becoming requi-
site in today's economic climate. The state
must create an economy based in science
and advanced technology like medical
research and solar technology. As Michi-
gan's economy shifts, more people are
going to need a bachelor's degree - or
higher - to find employment. And the Uni-
versity will have to step in to fill the need.
But growing too quickly would only
water down the quality of the education
that University students receive - and
that isn't worth it. Academic resources,
including a reasonable student-to-profes-
sor ratio, adequate space in residence halls

and appropriate technological resources
are important factors in determining the
quality of a university education. Present-
ly, these resources are being stretched thin
over too large a number of students. This
year, the University had to rush to convert
space in Oxford Residence Hall to accom-
modate students and has offered a North-
wood housing option to freshman.
The goal isn't simply to churn out more
graduates - it's to produce the very best
professional possible. Students can't excel
in their studies if they aren't able to access
classes that they are interested in or need
to fulfill requirements, their professors
and University resources. University offi-
cials need to focus on maintaining this
quality as they consider enrollment num-
bers. Inevitably, the University will have
to educate more people. But if it grows
too fast, it won't be able to compensate
the student increase with elite professors,
adequate living facilities and access to
appropriate, high quality classes. Growth
should be gradual and deliberate.
The University shouldn't sacrifice the
caliber of the experience it provides to give
more students a higher education. Gradu-
al growth will probably be necessary in
Michigan's shifting economy, but the Uni-
versity must provide adequate resources
to accompany any increase - and that
takes time.

it'sgame day. The Michigan foot-
ball team is about to take on
that school down south and I'm
walking down an
eerily quiet State
Street. The bros
are depressingly
situated on their
porches playing an
exhilarating game,
of chess and pray-
ing for the end of
this forsaken day.
Down near Hoover JOE
Street is no bet-
ter. The familiar SUGIYAMA
body-shaking bass
has become a thing
of the past, as the usually jubilant
houses seem vacant. The tenants peer
suspiciously out their windows, eyes
darting left to right, seeking rem-
nants of the jovial parties that no lon-
ger exist here at the University.
Seeing that nothing on campus is
worth my time, I head back to Green-
wood to check on my roommates,
wondering if they had somehow
found a way to make light of our cur-
rent situation. The street no longer
glistens in the sun with broken beer
bottles and the emblematic shoes on
the telephone lines hang without new
company because of a seeming lack
of motivation by the residents of the
street. As I approach my house I see
that one of my roommates is standing
out on our porch. His face is expres-
sionless and a solitary tear trickles
down his cheek.
This is the world that Daily colum-
nist Tyler Jones wantsus tolive in(The
battle for State Street, 9/17/2010). In
his column, he applauded the Univer-
sity police for their increased efforts
to issue tickets for underage drinking
during Welcome Week. He even went
as far as to call underage drinking on
campus an "epidemic" and seemed
almost smitten at the prospect of his
fellow classmates receiving Minor In

Possession charges.
I fully acknowledge that underage
drinking is against the law in order
to protect young adults from mak-
ing foolish decisions. I also acknowl-
edge that not everything on campus
revolves around drinking - in fact I
think that sober or not the campus
would be every bit as excited to see
Michigan quarterback Denard Rob-
inson take on Ohio State quarterback
Terrelle Pryor in late November - but
drinking is stilla major staple in cam-
pus lifestyle. You can't tell me that
going out on a Friday night doesn't
make that calc exam you just took a
little easier to swallow. And whether
this mindset is - as Jones put it - a
"crutch" or not, that's how many stu-
dents cope with the overwhelming
stress that comes with a "world-class
education."
This past Welcome Week, the
police saw it fit to have undercover
cops roam campus and stop naive
freshman who don't know not to
walk in the street with a cup full of
beer. I even heard of one case where
a student was lured off the safety
of his porch only to be immediately
asked for identification and promptly
MIP-ed. I wonder if this is the best
use of Michigan taxpayers' money.
Shouldn't the police be more con-
cerned with protectingstudents from
real dangers instead of slapping them
on the wrists with meaningless fines?
Now Jones laid out a couple of
statistics in his article, arguing that
"850 college students between the
ages of 18 and 21 died in 2009 as a
result of alcohol-related injuries."
But consider this: according to the
United States Census, 6,800 drivers
between the ages of 18 and 21 died as
in car accidents in 2007. With this in
mind, do you think it's a fair assump-
tion that Jones also thinks we should
stop driving under the age of 21? Of
course not, because that'd be both
inconvenient and idiotic.

I'mnotsayingthatdrinking-related
deaths are something to be sneered at,
but I am saying that the University
should consider educating its students
(imagine that...) about the dangers of
drinking instead of punishing them
for this inevitable act. They should
take their "Stay in the Blue" campaign
to another level by not only stress-
ing the life-threatening dangers of
binge drinking during orientation, but
offering safe methods of getting home
to all students. They could also use
RA's as agents of their cause. If resi-
dential advisors mentored their halls
about how to drink safely, instead of
threatening them with consequences,
students would feel less of a need to
slam those five shots of Five 'O in their
dorm rooms as quickly as possible;
because in my experience, a nervous.
drinker is a fast one.
'U' should educate
students about
drinking safely.
To say there is no college without
underage drinking is shallow and
ignorant, but to not acknowledge
that drinking is an important facet of
campus life echoes much of the same.
And if you can't appreciate the "rau-
cous" fraternityvolleyball or the "bit-
ter" aroma of beer, you don't have to,
but don't ruin it for the other 21,000
students who can. The University
shouldn't vainly attempt to stop this
overwhelming majority from drink-
ing. Instead, it should aid students
in making the right choices, even if
those choices aren't strictly legal.
- Joe Sugiyama can be reached
atjmsugi@umich.edu.

tihe
podium

The Daily's opinion blog wants you to weigh in.
Roger Suerhaft points out that a GOP divided by the
Tea Party could give Dems an edge in November.
Go to michigandaily.com and click on 'Blogs'.

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.

ALEX BERINGER |

BLASE KEARNEY I

Don't overlook student groups Right-to-work isn't the right choice

It's a little shocking to hear anyone at an
elite university - especially someone writ-
ing for one of the nation's best student news-
papers - extol the value of sitting back and
waiting for things to happen. In her column,
Vanessa Rychlinski tells freshmen to avoid
student activity organizations because "you
have spent four years [in high school] trying to
get here...putting together the right GPA, test
scores, the ideal blend of activities" and that
you should "save yourself during your fresh-
men year" (The first year of freedom, 9/17/10).
She writes that freshmen should "beware" of
groups who "voraciously" subject you to "over-
achiever-esque bullying" in order prey upon
your valuable free time "in this mythical land
of college." This all strikes me as distressing
for a couple of reasons:
First, there is Rychlinksi's not-so-subtle
implication that the only reason for joining
a campus organization is to pad your resume
for whatever high-powered, high-end type of
career or graduate school that your parents
expect you to pursue. This idea that every
activity in college is simply a means to a job is
exactly the kind of thinking that leads people
into careers in which they have little genuine
interest and thus into lives of quiet desperation
where one's true passions are laid on the back-
burner.
How about this as an alternative: You've
worked so hard in high school, studying, pur-
suing your passions and interests in the hope
that you might continue pursuing things you're
really passionate about.
Rychlinski's second reason, perhaps even
more distressing than the first, is the sugges-

tion that student groups are somehow schem-
ing to exploit you and distract you from the
truly important parts of your experience at the
University. It's true that campus organizations
desperately need people. They want to make
things happen, they have budgets to spend;
they want new perspectives on how they can
enrich our campus. But if they're so desperate
for leadership, why can't you lead them? Why
not get in on the ground floor and make some-
thing spectacular happen on campus? Why
not you? You - especially freshmen - have an
incredibly valuable window of opportunity to
pursue whatever you wish.
Want to be on the radio or bring concerts to
campus? Promote (or fight) socialized health-
care? Dust off fossils at the Natural History
Museum? Manage a small business? Hone your
journalistic skills by writing for the sports
page or the opinion column? Each of these
things is in your reach and each can be the
foundation for a fulfilling college experience
and ultimately a career where you pursue your
true interests and passions.
While you shouldn't join all of these groups
at once, it might lead to something really
extraordinary if you pick one and devote your
very best energies to it. So yes, you should
beware, but not of the campus activity groups.
Instead, beware of those who tell you "my
advice is to do absolutely nothing." The cov-
ered workshop you have here only lasts four
(maybe five) years and it is, without exaggera-
tion, a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Don't let it
slip away.
Alex Beringer a Rackham student.

In the Daily last week, Rachel Van Gilder wrote a col-
umn that urges the Republican gubernatorial candidate,
Rick Snyder, to push for a right-to-work law if elected (An
unholy union policy, 09/14/2010). In her column, Van Gild-
er describes right-to-work as a law that makes it "illegal
to force people to join unions," but the reality is a little
more complex than that.
Right-to-work allows workers to choose whether or not
,to pay for their union representation. Under the current
regime, workers are never compelled to join unions. How-
ever, businesses can reach agreements with the workers
that representation fees are a condition of employment.
Because employees will make more back in higher wages
negotiated through the union than they pay in dues or
fees, few workers have a problem with paying representa-
tion fees.
However, in right-to-work states, workers in a union-
ized workplace get the benefits of the union-negotiated
contract, regardless of whether or not they pay dues. Pre-
dictably, if workers can get the union benefits without
paying for them, many will choose to do so, and unions
will then beunder-funded.
The design of the right-to-work laws is to create this free-
rider problem and destroy unions. In this sense, the law is
hypocritical. Anti-union critics characterize union workers
as expecting something for nothing, but right-to-work laws
allow just that: workers can reap the benefits of a collective
bargaining agreement without paying their share.
Van Gilder's column then begins a separate economic
argument: Michigan would be better off under a right-
to-work law because it would weaken unions. She cites
a study claiming Michigan would have 60,000 more jobs
without union security. However, the author concedes
that the jobs would pay less, $14,000 per year less. That's
the price of in-state college tuition, health care or perhaps
the difference between foreclosure and a family staying
in their home.
This underscores a larger point about right-to-worklaws.
Generally, the purported jobs that result from having a
right-to-work regime are lower paid. According to Bureau
of Labor Statistics from 2001, workers in states that have
adopted right-to-work laws make about $5,000 less a year
than workers in other states, including Michigan. This is a
stark contrast considering Michigan is widely regarded to
have one of the worst economies in the nation.

Furthermore, the internal logic of the "right-to-work
increases jobs" argument doesn't make sense. Why would
less unions and lower wages incentivize companies like
GM or Chrysler to add new hires to their plants? Their
lines are already staffed - they don't need any more
workers, regardless of wage. Lower wages would only
translate into increased profits to shareholders, just like
it did when these same car companies shipped many jobs
to Latin America in the 1990s.
Finally, Van Gilder says that unions are no longer need-
ed in an era with Occupational Safety and Health Admin-
istration - more commonly known as OSHA - and
where the steel mills don't have a "14 hour work day" and
"unsafe conditions." Clearly, Van Gilder has never been
to a steel mill, but I have. Over the summer I visited mills
in Pennsylvania. It is 130 degrees with poor ventilation.
The company had received a large rush order, and many
workers were in their 76th hour of work for the week. The
day after I was there, a coke oven exploded killing two
workers and maiming twenty others, giving horrid third
degree chemical burns that will make their faces unrec-
ognizable to their families and charring their esophagus
so that they must take food intravenously. They will also
never speak words again.
The truth is actually the converse of what Van Gilder
claims, as anyone who heard of the mine explosion in
West Virginia over the summer that killed 29 workers
would know. In an era when safety regulators are being
captured by the industries they regulate, unions that
close the unregulated industry are in the best position to
enforce those laws the government will not.
The reality is that nothing material has changed about
the employee-employer relationship since the National
Labor Relations Act was passed in the 1930s. The employ-
er still holds all the power. A potential employee only has
their labor to withhold, which is meaningless unless it is
collectivized.
All right-to-work has to offer is less effective unions,
lower wages and more profits for shareholders. But most
importantly, it hurts the workers'voice in their employment.
What little democracy there is in a workplace ought not be
ceded for an illogical promise of a small amount of jobs.
Blase Kearney is law student and a member of
Michigan Immigration and Labor Law Association.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Jordan Birnholtz, Adrianna Bojrab, Will Butler, Michelle DeWitt,
Ashley Griesshammer, Will Grundler, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga,
Tommaso Pavone, Leah Potkin, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Laura Veith

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