4A - Monday, November 22, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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AnnArbor, MI 48109
EDITOR IN CHIEF
RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
We are finally beginning to see some
of these tough decisions that we made in
the midst of the crisis pay off.
- President Barack Obama commenting on GM's return to the
stock market, as reported by Time magazine last week.
Judging Wayne County
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.
10 percent relevant
MSA needs to encourage student voter turnout
The Michigan Student Assembly held midterm elections
last week - but apparently only 10 percent of students
cared, even though this will be the last year that mid-
terms are held. On Nov. 16, MSA adopted significant changes to
its structure, including the elimination of midterm elections.
Scrapping the November elections was a good move, but the
change can't overshadow the low voter turnout in MSA elections
- which has been abysmal for years. MSA needs to become more
relevant to the student body to encourage participation. At the
same time, in order for the students to hold MSA representatives
accountable, they need to vote in every election.
When Detroit fell from the
ranks of America's top cit-
ies (early 1960s, I'd say),
there were many
things it lost: peo-
jobs, splendor and
One thing the city.
kept at the same
rate as any other
large urban center,
however, was gov-
ernmental hubris IMRAN
empty pride. SYED
From the elec-
tion of Mayor Cole-
man Young through the failures of
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit's
vanity was its most plentiful resource
and greatest poison. It was vanity
that allowed the city's voters to look
past Young's many improprieties at
a time when more effective manage-
ment may have prevented the city's
collapse. And it's that same van-
ity that allows city council today (I'll
leave Mayor Dave Bing out of this for
now) to continue to reject solutions
to save the city for the simple reason
that they are funded by "outsiders,"
managed by "outsiders" or simply are
what the "outsiders" want.
As unfortunate and destructive as
this arrogance is, I suppose we might
understand why Detroit's elected
officials play up this stance. They are
politicians and pretending to fight off
meddling by outsiders is a good sell to
voters. But when Detroit's press falls
into this narrow-minded trap, then
things can get much worse still.
In a recent editorial, the Detroit
Free Press derided a ruling by St.
Clair County Judge Peter Deegan
decreeing that Wayne County
courts are grossly under-funded
and must receive a large influx of
funds immediately (A blank check for
Wayne County courts is out of order,
11/11/2010). (Detroit is in Wayne
County. While the two technically
have separate governing structures,
Detroit accounts for the vast majority
of the activity in the county's circuit
courts. Deegan, a disinterested out-
side judge, was asked to decide the
case for the sake of fairness.)
The Free Press wrote that Wayne
County has far bigger problems to
deal with. Money is tight and the
county certainly doesn't need an out-
side judge telling it what to do. Parts
of that opinion are defensible, though
ultimately wrong. The last part, how-
ever, is just an example of Detroit's
press showing the same stubborn
defensiveness that has characterized
and hindered the city's government
for the better part of five decades.
Yes, Wayne County, like all large
urban counties is constantly short
on cash. The problem is exacerbat-
ed here because of a shrinking tax
base and aging infrastructure. And
yes, there are many other problems
for the city and county to deal with.
But Deegan reached his decision not
because of some crazy ideal of lavish,
luxurious government spending, but
rather because he found that unless
the courts receive more funding, the
county's residents will be denied
access to justice. There may be other
places to spend money but funding
courts should be a top priority.
My own experience with Wayne
County courts and the judicial pro-
cess in Detroit leads me to believe that
Deegan's conclusion is absolutely cor-
rect. In the University Law School's
Innocence Clinic, we file all sorts of
motions and requests with courts in
various Michigan counties. In no other
county is the process as difficult, slow
and broken as in Wayne County.
Deegan specifically noted that the
Wayne County Clerk's Office must
receive more funds so that it can hire
enough staff to bring filings up to date.
Having waited on hold over the phone
for literally hours and devoted the bet-
ter part of the day to filing motions in
Wayne County (a process that takes
mere minutes in any other county and
can often be done online), I know that
the things Deegan deemed necessary
are true necessities for access to justice
in Wayne County.
Detroit needs to
accept help from
Knowing that the Free Press's edi-
torial stance is all about equality and
justice, I believe it would also agree
with Deegan's solutions if it took a
moment to reflect on the grave truth
of the problems he means to address.
Instead of engaging with honesty and
listening with an open mind, the Free
Press retreated into a familiar safe
zone and took the easy shots at med-
dling "outsiders" that we've seen a
thousand times before from Detroit's
The result is that now, not only can
Wayne County officials sit by and do
nothing to solve the problems caused
by a grossly under-funded court sys-
tem, but the press will also actually
applaud this decision. Neither of the
two groups that are supposed to look
out for the people - government and
the press - are doing their jobs. They
sit ensconced in their familiar corner,
baring their fangs at any "outsider"
who dares to offer help.
Meanwhile,Detroit's failure continues.
- Imran Syed can be reached
Last week, several student governments
held midterm elections, including MSA, the
University of Michigan Engineering Coun-
cil, Rackham Student Government and the
LSA Student Government. Final figures on
MSA election turnout were delayed because
of technical difficulties that prevented stu-
dents in the College of Nursing from voting.
Results released to the Daily showed that
voter turnout this semester was 10.2 percent.
Last year, the midterm elections garnered a
9-percent turnout. In March, when the MSA
president and vice president were elected, 14
percent of students voted - the highest per-
centage any MSA election had seen in years.
This year is the last year that November
elections will be held. The Daily reported
on Wednesday, that MSA voted to imple-
ment a new compiled code to improve voter
turnout and restructure its legislative and
executive branches. Among the new rules
was a provision to eliminate November
midtetrelections. Changes are slated to
take effect in March.
Getting rid of the midterm elections is a
smart decisioas, Because fewer and less vis-
ible seats are filled, students know even less
about candidates than they do in the spring
elections. In essence, the dismally low
turnout and lack of awareness about the
midterm elections renders them useless.
MSA has recognized this ineffectiveness
and changed the policy. Now, students will
only have one election to keep track of - the
general election. This may help increase
voter turnout by adding more weight to the
March general election.
For this midterm election, MSA worked
with UMEC, LSA-SG and other organiza-
tions to increase voter turnout. Student gov-
ernment publicized the election through
flyers, Facebook and e-mails. They hoped
that election results and voter turnout statis-
tics would show that advertising campaign
was effective. But there was only a 1-percent
increase from last year.
10-percent turnout - though it's better
than last year's midterms - is still terrible.
MSA has the potential to be an integral part
of the connection between students and the
University administration - and students
need to recognize this. voting is the only
way for students to hold MSA representa-
tives accountable for their actions. If stu-
dents don't vote, MSA won't be able to gain
legitimacy because it won't be responding
directly to students' wants and needs.
But MSA also needs to improve its rel-
evance. The organization must aggressively
campaign for reforms like open housing (for-
merly known as gender-neutral housing),
provide students with interesting activities
and increase the amount of money it distrib-
utes to student groups.
MSA needs to step up - but so do students.
When the winter elections roll around, let's
hope that more than a tenth of the student
population shows up at the polls.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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Examine early enrollment
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Jordan Birnholtz, Will Butler, Eaghan Davis, Michelle DeWitt,
Ashley Griesshammer, Will Grundler, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata,
Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga, Teddy Papes, Tommaso Pavone, Leah Potkin,
Roger Sauerhaft, Asa Smith, Julian Toles, Laura Veith, Andrew Weiner
JOE KLAVER |
Protect privacy in public
Amidst the smoldering wreckage of privacy
and the Fourth Amendment left behind by the
misuse of technology and a post-Sept. 11 men-
tality, it seems almost trite to advise people
that, "those who would sacrifice liberty for
security deserve neither," as Benjamin Frank-
lin once put it.
In a world where it can be assumed that
your text messages are being read by some spy
at the National Security Agency (if you haven't
already updated the whole world via Facebook
or Twitter), it may seem like the fight to main-
tain some semblance of privacy is over or at
least futile. Thankfully, there are some areas
of our private lives where there is still time
for proactive action. The Ann Arbor Freedom
From Surveillance Ordinance takes steps to
protect the privacy of individuals and allow the
police reasonable access to surveillance.
The use of surveillance cameras as a means
to curb crime is nothing new. Private institu-
tions and businesses as well as governments
and law enforcement have used these cam-
eras for years to observe their customers and
constituents. These invasions of privacy are
generally justified through ex post facto expla-
nations that these cameras, while intrusive,
are worthwhile because of their supposed abil-
ity to prevent and help solve crimes.
This claim is rarelygiven close scrutiny. When
you look at the sum of available empirical evi-
dence, it becomes clear that cameras are ineffec-
tive in combating crime. The United Kingdom
Home-Office Study - a meta-study published in
2005 to evaluate the effectiveness of the coun-
try's closed-circuit television (more commonly
referred to as CCTV) systems - found that the
installation of surveillance cameras didn't reduce
the overall level of crime, didn't make people feel
safer and didn't cause people to change their
behavior. So in many ways, surveillance camera
advocates are asking people to trade their liberty
for a false sense of security.
Across the world, most notably in Great Brit-
ain, the last few years have given rise to a tre-
mendous increase in government surveillance
through the utilization of CCTV cameras. This
can be observed in cities as close as Lansing,
where there are now surveillance cameras in
several residential neighborhoods.
Ann Arbor has, so far, not been a victim of
this trend. While there are certainly plenty of
private surveillance cameras throughout Ann
Arbor, there hasn't been an increase in govern-
ment or police cameras installed. This absence
gives us the opportunity to plan how we want
to protect privacy in our community - a type
of planning that has largely failed to occur
across the country. It's precisely this absence
of planning that leads to the proliferation of,
The Ann Arbor Freedom From Surveil-
lance Ordinance proposes, amongst other
things, to ban surveillance cameras in resi-
dential neighborhoods while allowing the
installation of cameras in high-crime areas.
Also included are provisions that require the
police to maintain a web-accessible database
of every camera they've installed throughout
the city, while also requiring every installed
camera to be renewed yearly. The renewal
process is especially important because the
tendency is for these cameras to be installed
and never be removed. The renewal require-
ment ensures that cameras don't outlive their
usefulness. The proposed ordinance strikes a
middle ground between the current Wild West
approach and a more radical law, that would
perhaps ban surveillance cameras altogether.
This issue is important to us because mass
surveillance programs fundamentally alter the
communities they monitor. Even though cam-
eras can seem benign, the specter of constant
observation is difficult to ignore. By supporting
the Ann Arbor Freedom From Surveillance Ordi-
nance, we can make explicit our community's
rejection of the all-encompassing surveillance
society and establish a reasonable framework for
surveillance use by law enforcement.
Joe Klaver is a member of the
Students Against Surveillence.
Backpacking for Winter 2011
classes has begun and I, for
one, couldn't be more excited.
Going in for advis-
ing appointments, T
scheduling classes t
times, making *
sure I have enough
credits, choosing f
fun and interesting y
classes and going
sor.com constantly COURTNEY
are all a part of the FLETCHER
ritual of scheduling
classes that I look
forward to each
semester. But among those signing up
for classes is a small group that has yet
to leave the comfort of home.
Each year, a small group of student-
athletes make the decision to leave
high school a semester early and enroll
at the University for winter term. This
isn't specific to Michigan - young-
sters all over the nation in a wide array
of sports are starting to enroll ahead
of schedule. There's no single reason
for why student-athletes choose to do
this. Sometimes the pressure comes
from the coaches, sometimes the stu-
dent is ready to get out of high school
and sometimes it's for training pur-
poses. While it's ultimately a student-
athletes's decision to do what's best for
them, there are significant pros and
cons to be examined.
There are definite advantages that
come with an entire off-season of
training. Weight lifting, conditioning
and practice for college athletics are at
a whole different level of intensity than
high school. With four extra months
of training, players can learn the sys-
tem and be better prepared to step into
a role in the upcoming season if their
team calls for it. And when the season
comes around - unlike most fresh-
men - they will already be acclimated
to the demands and work necessary to
succeed as a student-athlete.
But early enrollment also comes
with several cons - most of which are
social. Ifa student-athlete leaves high
school early, they forfeit a lot of events
that are a big part of the high school
experience. Prom, senior trips, gradu-
ation and the fun of being a second-
semester senior are all gone.
Fitting in with the teamis also a con-
cern: identification isthehardestthing.
Are early-enrolled student-athletes
freshmen? Well, yes, technically. But
are they still a freshman when their
class comes in? Not really. This creates
a gap between the early-enrolled stu-
dent-athletes and their peers. A sense
of belonging becomes more difficult to
achieve. And on top of it all, coming in a
semester early doesn't guarantee more
I actually considered early enroll-
ment after I committed to Michigan.
I was over the high school scene, was
going to devote a majority of my time
to volleyball anyway and was eager to
go to college. I could have done it, too.
I met with my high school counselor
several times and figured out a sched-
ule that would allow me to graduate
early and enroll in the University for
the Winter 2008 semester.
But looking back, I am so happy I
chose not to. When I was a senior in
high school, my team won a national
championship, I graduated in the
Georgia Dome, went to my senior
prom with all my best friends and
was able to have a somewhat normal
high school experience. The pres-
sures of recruiting had been pres-
ent since freshman year. For once, I
was secure and happy in where I was
going to college and able to sit back
and just enjoy being a teenager.
I think it's a mistake for people to
leave high school a semester early.
There are of course some situations
where the student-athlete is perfectly
happy and makes the right choice.
Three of my former teammates made
the decision to go to college early and
reaped the benefits as well as dealt
with the challenges. But their stories
aren't always the norm.
While many times football players
are the focus of early enrollment, it's
not just student-athletes who make
these choices. There are other academ-
ically-advanced students who aren't
challenged in high school and decide
to go early. Others make the choice
because of family or living situations.
These students face the same social
challenges that student-athletes face.
Instead of physical demands, these
students are challenged academically.
There's no reason
to rush through
My fear is that this practice will
start to happen more frequently.
Teams can benefit from student-
athletes undergoing an extra semes-
ter of training and universities can
get press for enrolling young, bright
minds early. Early enrollment could
become normal for students who
want to get ahead. A careful consider-
ation of how students will be affected
socially needs to be made before they
choose to do this more and more.
Student-athletes give so much of
themselves to their sports during
their four years of college competi-
tion. For most, there's no reason to
rush it. High school student-athletes
should enjoy what's left of a high
school experience and wait for the
pressures and commitment of college
athletics to start in the fall.
- Courtney Fletcher can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Complete Spectrum: Christopher Dyer points out that
teaching acceptance of alternative families in schools is a good
thing - and that parents should learn some acceptance, too.
Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium.