4 -Tuesday, February 22, 2011r
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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EDITOR IN CHIEF
and EMILY ORLEY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS
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.
FROM T HE DAILY
One union doesn'tft all.
'U' should focus on specific needs of GSRAs
The issue of unionization has recently become a major con-
cern for graduate students at the University. The Graduate
Employees' Organization is lobbying to bring graduate stu-
dent research assistants under the umbrella of its union, and the
University is declining to negotiate this issue with GEO. While GEO
hasn't gone on strike, members are not happy about the University's
current stance at the bargaining table. The University is under no
obligation to discuss GSRA unionization with GEO, but it's important
that it recognizes the needs of GSRAs - who do invaluable work on
their research projects - and be sure that they are being met.
GEO is currently in negotiations with the
University about its contract. Among the issues
on the bargaining table isthe desire to unionize
GSRAs. As a result of a 1981 Michigan Employ-.
ment Relations Commission ruling in which
the University contested GSRAs status as union
members, GEO only represents graduate stu-
dent instructors and graduate student staff
assistants. GEO wants to bring GSRAs into its
collective bargaining agreementto help address
issues of wage discrepancies, concerns of dis-
abled and international GSRAs and other issues
pertaining to working conditions.
According to Jeff Frumkin, the associate
vice provost and senior director of academic
resources, the University has a permissive
right to not discuss this issue and has chosen
not to do so. Since GSRAs are not protected
by GEO, GEO doesn't have the authority to
negotiate GSRA rights. GEO is overstepping
its bounds in trying to bring GSRAs into its
bargaining agreement and needs to recognize
whereis authority ends. But the University;
needs to ,work directly with GSRAs to make
sure that their needs are being met, their con-
cerns are being addressed and they know what
resources are available to them if they have an
issue to discuss.
In an interview with the Daily, Frumkin said
the University doesn't think it's in GSRAs' best
interest to join GEO because a collective bar-
gaining agreement wouldn't properly address
the specific issues related to each GSRA
research project. Many GSRAs agree with this
sentiment and have indicated that they don't
want to join GEO. But the University cannot
completely ignore the needs of GSRAs. Clearly
there is a missing link in this situation, and the
University needs to address this concern.
If GSRAs want to campaignfor unionization
that is their right, butthey needto actively pur-
sue this option with GEO behind them. Not the
other way around. Currently, GEO is attempt-
ing to assimilate GSRAs into its union by ask-
ing them to sign membership cards, but there
should also be active participation by GSRAs so
it's evident that they are collectively on board
with this decision.
There are undoubtedly situations in which
a GSRA may require assistance in dealing
with a faculty member or the conditions of
his or her work at the University,,but union-
izing may not be the most effective solution.
Instead, the University must be willing to help
GSRAs by expanding or implementing neces-
Remember the food pyramid?
Think back to your elemen-
tary school's cafeteria - I
ored guide to
eating well. Back
tions - lots of
followed closely DEMERY
by fruit and veg-
etables - seemed
simple enough, though that's not to
say I actually followed it. I was terri-
bly picky, and my own move toward
healthy eating didn't really start
until my sophomore year of college
when I finally learned to cook for
But back then, the stakes didn't
seem so dire. Today, thanks to the
obesity epidemic, every bite we take
is loaded with more than calories.
For some, a bite is loaded with guilt,
for others, with wonder: Am Ieating
the "right" food? Is this good for me?
Personal opinions about what
constitutes healthy eating vary, but
the Department of Agriculture and
Department of Health and Human
Services are trying to make that
simpler. Every five years, the depart-
ments release a new set of Dietary
Guidelines. In the past, it has been
difficult to separate these recom-
mendations from the desires of the
powerful farm-interested lobbyist.
As a result, consumer health was
often secondary to the meat and
But the newest set of Dietary
Guidelines for 2010 - released in
last month - resist these power-
ful lobbyists more than ever before.
That's not to say these guidelines are
perfect. You can still see the influ-
'ence of the meat and dairy lobbyists,
but it's not as transparent as in years
past. This batch of guidelines also
moves closer to a non-biased map for
Simplicity was one of the most
powerful themes to emerge from
the 2010 guidelines. In essence, we
should eatless. This is tough, practi-
cal and much-needed advice. It may.
sound harsh coming from a govern-
ment agency, but it's time we face
our demons with eating openly and
honestly. We cannot sustainthe cur-
rent way we eat - both for health
reasons and for the environment's
sake. The recommendation to eat
less is a wonderful start.
The guidelines recommend doing
so by supplementing your diet with
fruits and vegetables - ideally, your
plate will be half full. At first glance,
that's a daunting amount of veg-
etables, but another key to follow-
ing these guidelines is patience. We
didn't get fat overnight, and we're
not going to slim down that quickly
either. Healthy, long-lasting weight
loss takes time, and the way to do it
successfully is gradually.
The second key tenet to the 2010
Dietary Guidelines points to con-
suming nutrient-rich foods. This
is a vague recommendation. At the
grocery store, it can be hard to tell
what's good for you and what's
not, especially since the Food and
Drug Administration doesn't regu-
late everything that manufacturers
write on their products.
These nutrient-rich foods
include fruit, vegetables, whole
grains, low-fat dairy, seafood, lean
meat, eggs, beans and nuts. Notice-
ably, these are all mostly "whole"
foods, rather than a compendium
of artificial ingredients. This is
encouraging, though on the whole,
the guidelines would have done
well to push for a more environ-
mentally friendly diet.:
What could the guidelines have
included? New York Times col-
umnist Mark Bittman thought
"The Omnivore's Dilemma" author
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Michael Pollan's slogan would have
been a good place to start: "Eat
food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Unfortunately, Pollan's manifesto is
still a bit unrealistic for many of us.
As a nation, we're not quite ready
- though we should be - to fully
embrace a plant-based diet.
Nonetheless, exposure to this
idea is the only way to convince
Americans that eating less meat is a
relevant endeavor. The fact that the
guidelines are only issued every five
years becomes important - though
Americans aren't yet willing to
embrace the idea of eating "mostly
plants," repeating this mantra is one
way to work towards its eventual
The guidelines had the potential
to introduce this idea in a relatively
small way. There's a growing move-
ment called "Meatless' Mondays"
that encourages Americans to take
a break from meat once a week.
The program is run in association
with the Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg
School of Public Health. It's a very
gradual reduction in meat consump-
tion, but the end result hopes to get
Americans to consume 15 percent
less meat. The goal isn't just person-
al health - for the Meatless Mon-
day folks, the planet's health is just
as important. In an ideal world, the
2010 Dietary Guidelines would have
endorsed this program or created
one like it.
-Mary Demery can be reached
NICHOLAS CLIFTI |V-EWPOI
Protect NPR, it protects us
Aida Ali, Will Butler, Ellie Chessen, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Melanie Kruvelis,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley,
Harsha Panduranga, Teddy Papes, Asa Smith, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
In the weeks and months following Sept. 11,
Americans turned to National Public Radio by
the millions. It was a scary time, and people
needed trustworthy information and analysis
as they struggled to make sense of something
that seemed senseless.
So worthy of respect was their coverage
in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks that
many of the new listeners NPR gained in 2001
became committed new fans, and 9/11 became
a turning point for public radio. Over the last
decade, as the audience for nearly every other
traditional news source has sharply declined,
NPR saw its audience grow 50 percent- with
nearly 30 million listeners of every political
affiliation now tuning in every week and mil-
lions more downloading NPR podcasts.
Yet despite NPR's popularity - due to
its success at creating a product which the
American people have deemed worth fund-
ing - public radio finds itself in jeopardy. Last
week, House Republicans announced a budget
proposal that would completely eliminate the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is
partially responsible for funding NPR.
I have no doubt that sharp cuts to the fed-
eral budget are necessary. The Republican
plan would slash education, pulverize the
Environmental Protection Agency, eliminate
AmeriCorps, cut funding for Great Lakes
cleanup in half and reduce nutritional support
for infants. I'm willing to accept the fact that
some of those cuts maybe necessary to get fed-
eral deficits under control.
Americans, though, cannot accept cuts to
the institutions, that allow them to check the
power of their government. The CPB, while
accounting for a laughably small portion of
the federal budget, plays an important role in
holding the government accountable. Cutting
the CPB, let aloneeliminatingitentirely, would
be fundamentally inappropriate and irrespon-
sible. That's why strict policies exist for British
lawmakers interested in adjusting the funding
of the government-supported BBC.
Admittedly, the elimination of the CPB
would not affect countless commercial media
sources. But NPR's 30 million listeners would
argue there's a significant difference between
the service provided by NPR and that of other
broadcast sources like MSNBC and Fox News.
It's a difference important enough to cause
huge numbers of private citizens to donate to
public radio stations like Michigan Radio here
in Ann Arbor.
That difference is all about trust. When I
are tuned to Glenn Beck's show on Fox News,
and while I find his style especially obnoxious,
my feelings apply to many of the programs on
modern cable news. They're focused on politi-
cal extremes, and like Keith Olbermann before
his departure from MSNBC, Beck concentrates
on entertaining his audience. It's an unavoid-
able condition of commercially-funded media
that he makes money, not based on the merit of
his analysis, but based on his ability to enter-
tain and retain viewers.
That's what makes NPR's business model
so special and its cause so important. NPR
reporters take home money only if they can
convince listeners their report was so well
composed, so unbiased and so important
to the general population that it warrants
a donation or a CPB grant to sustain future
reports. The built-in emphasis on qual-
ity over entertainment is what makes public
media unlike any other form of media on the
planet. The only way I manage to survive 30
minutes on a treadmill listening to Glenn
Beck is the knowledge that I'll soon climb
into my car and hear those calm, sane words,
"From NPR news in Washington..." They're
words that say, "Go ahead, Nick, make up
your own mind."
Forty years ago this April, NPR began its
broadcasts with live coverage of the Senate
hearings on the war in Vietnam. Since then,
NPR and its journalists have accumulated
hundreds of awards, including 53 George Fos-
ter Peabody Awards. Far more importantly,
though, it has gained the trust of the American
people as an even-handed source for news and
analysis. For 40 years, as an independent gov-
ernment watchdog and source of top-quality
journalism, NPR has been protecting our free-
doms through its reporting. Now it's our turn
to protect NPR.
Nicholas Clift is an Engineering sophomore.
Even though it's only Febru-
ary, it's been a pretty good
Don't stop read-
ing yet. I know
many of you are
ing? Cows? Bor-
ing!" But this
farming stuff is RACHEL
really important VAN GILDER
And in the past
couple of months, Michigan agricul-
ture has finally started to getsome of
the recognition it deserves.
Farming is our state's second-
largest industry following the auto-
motive industry. The agriculture
industry employs more than 1 mil-
lion people statewide and generates
about $60 billion in economic activ-
ity, according to the Michigan State
University Product Center. Michigan
produces huge quantities of high-
quality asparagus, blueberries, black,
red and navy beans, apples and car-
rots, among a variety of other valu-
able crops. Michigan's big claim to
fame is cherries. The state produces
about 75 percent of the nation's tart
cherries, according to the Michigan
Department of Agriculture.
In a move that had champions of
agriculture like me cheering, Repub-
lican Gov. Rick Snyder recognized
agriculture's importance in his first
annual State of the State address on
Jan. 19. He asked the state Legisla-
ture to add agricultural processing
to the 21st Century Jobs Fund, a
government-based initiative started
in 2005 by former Democratic Gov.
Jennifer Granholm. It's designed to
"strengthen and diversify Michi-
gan's economic base by fostering
the creation and growth of new
jobs, new businesses and new indus-
tries" through private investments,
according to its website. If the Leg-
islature agrees, the fund will invest
more money in creating agriculture
jobs in Michigan.
It's encouraging to hear Snyder
recognize the importance of agricul-
ture to the state - it's far too often
that people focused on Michigan's
automotive industry ignore the eco-
nomic powerhouse that employs
about 24 percent of the state's popu-
lation, according to the MSU Product
Center. Investing in a growing indus-
try that's already successful is sim-
ply smart business. And Snyder is, if
nothing else, a shrewd businessman.
But Snyder's nod to the agricul-
tural industry wasn't the only good
news for Michigan farmers. Fans
of the recently-canceled Michigan
State Fair also got some good news
earlier this month.
Granholm gave the State Fair's
public funding the ax in 2009. With-
out the funding, the fair wasn't able
to get off the ground in2009 or 2010.
There was talk of leasing the state
fairgrounds located in Detroit to
other organizations, but those plans
fell through. Despite its importance,
it looks like Michigan's historic State
Fair perished for good at age 160.
I lamented the loss of the State Fair
last year ((Agri)cultural celebration,
04/05/2010). Agriculture is a signifi-
cant- part of Michigan's identity, and
it deserves recognition on a state level.
The State Fair provided that recogni-
tion. When it died, an already under-
appreciated industry slipped a little
further into the background.
I also argued that if Michigan
agricultural organizations worked
together to raise private funds to
sponsor the event, they could prob-
ably bring the State Fair back to life.
I was only half right.
In early February, a coalition of
agriculture-based groups announced
that they have banded together to
create a replacement for the State
Fair: The Great Lakes Agricultural
Fair. The Agricultural Fair would
host traditional fair events such as
a farmer's market and animal judg-
ing. Organizers also plan to include
concerts from a variety of genres and
other family-friendly entertainment
like traditional fair rides.
Agriculture is a
of our state.
The group sponsoring the event,
which is made up of Michigan poli-
ticians and businessmen, still needs
to finish brokering deals with enter-
tainment acts and hammering out
other details. But it looks like every-
thing is moving alongsmoothly. The
event is scheduled to be held at the
Silverdome in Pontiac - which was
formerly the home of the Detroit
Lions - Sept. 2 through 5, according
to a Feb. 7 Detroit News article. The
article said Grant Reeves,- general
manager of the Silverdome, hopes
to draw more than 80,000 people to
the event. One-day admission tick-
ets are expected to cost only $8 for
adults - not an unreasonable price.
The prospect of a State Fair sub-
stitute is wonderful. Much of Michi-
gan is rural, though the woes of
Detroit discussed in the news often
make us forget that. It's only right
to take the time to come together to
celebrate this very important part of
our state's culture. The Agricultural
Fair won't be the same as the State
Fair - but it's close enough.
Agriculture is a defining aspect of
our state, and it's about time that itgot
some of the recognition it deserves.
Rachel Van Gilder was the Daily's
editorial page editor in 2010. She can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.