4A - Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
i e itign atlv
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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SIMON BORSTE-ALIMNN 1ALIMIHEt
LSA, meet entrepreneurship
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.
Same (sex) benefits
Health care disparities exist for 'U' couples
The University has long been seen as a bastion of tolerance,
progressive thinking and action. But because of complica-
tions arising from a seven-year-old state amendment, it
has had some serious issues to address concerning the treatment of
homosexual couples with respect to health care benefits.
n a previous column (Find your
inner entrepreneur, 1/25/2011)
I encouraged students to think
they can take
to offer. Only a
few hours after
print, I received
an e-mail from
a member of
The discrepancy in health benefits was
brought up in a recent study conducted by
University alum Gilia Smith, who gave a pre-
sentation last week to the Senate Advisory
Committee on University Affairs - the lead
faculty governing body - on the inequality
regarding benefits given to same-sex couples
compared to those given to married couples.
According to Smith, the primary issue with
the University's policy is that an employee in
a non-married relationship, whether same-
sex or heterosexual, must live with his or
her partner for at least six months before the
partner is eligible for health benefits. Smith
asserts this policy would not be acceptable
if it were associated with any other demo-
graphic like race.
With this policy, the University aims to
circumvent restrictions on same-sex couples'
health benefits that were established in a bal-
lot initiative that banned gay marriage and
was approved by Michigan voters in 2004. In
the case of married couples at the University,
partners automatically receive benefits, since
their marital status mandates their legal and
financial dependence. The University's policy
serves as a loophole for same-sex couples by
using six months of coexistence as a means
of recognizing dependency between part-
ners and a need for shared health care ben-
efits. While the University's policy has good
intent, it still forces co-dependent same-sex
couples to wait six months to establish their
need for benefits, while a heterosexual cou-
ple receives their benefits immediately upon
There's probably a better way to achieve
the goal of equitable benefits for deserving
couples - perhaps proof of co-dependency
instead of residency would be more effective.
University action to prevent the resulting
inequality might include a closer investiga-
tion of how people are associated with each
other. Though this solution is not ideal - and
indeed potentially invasive and costly - the
initiative would be better than the current
stopgap measure that makes same-sex cou-
ples wait for significant benefits that they
should be entitled to.
It's important to note the underlying issue
is with the proposal itself, not misconduct
by the University. The draconian ballot ini-
tiative that amended the state constitution
to define marriage as between a man and a
woman - and banned civil unions - has
left the University's hands tied. It has been
forced to rely on a loophole in order for same-
sex couples to be provided with benefits.
This needs to be reversed and is as much of
a priority as the ailing economy. Under our
Constitution, basic civil rights need to be
guaranteed for all citizens, including same-
By virtue of the 2004 ballot initiative Pro-
posal 2, Michigan voters made it very dif-
ficult for the University to protect rights of
the LGBTQ community. But difficult doesn't
mean impossible. Regardless of any hurdles
it may face, the University should make an
even greater effort to combat the inequal-
ity exposed by Smith. Michigan voters should
take note of the University's efforts and take
action to reverse the deleterious effects of the
constitutionally embedded gay marriage ban.
organization MPowered: "If you're
serious about what you wrote, come
meet us at 3 p.m. tomorrow."
It became apparent that MPow-
ered's vision aligns with every-
thing I celebrated in that column. I
assumed that their main focus was
on birthing high-growth businesses.
I had no idea that they promote the
mindset that makes them and other
high-impact endeavors possible. I
kept interrupting the conversation
- "Guys, you're sure you believe that
community organizers, activists
and non-profits can also be entre-
preneurial, right?" And they would
respond: "As long as they do some-
thing about it - as long as they don't
simply talk about it - then yes."
Then they told me about eRes,
their new living-learning commu-
nity in Mojo, which aims to instill
the entrepreneurial mindset in stu-
dents. They work on actual, real
problems that they define based on
their interests. Students come from
diverse disciplines, so engineers
will work with philosophy majors,
Business students with English
majors, and so on. The program
doesn't verbally "teach" them the
entrepreneurial mindset. Rather, it
provides a unique environment for
students to develop and practice it
through hands-on experience fol-
lowed by reflection.
Most students may not know that
they themselves are entrepreneur-
ial or even that they want to be. We
want to change that. While discuss-
ing this, we quickly realized that it
would have been highly hypocriti-
cal for us to merely sit and chat. The
seed was planted for 1000 Voices: A
grassroots, student-led initiative to
encourage entrepreneurial educa-
tion at the University.
National figures from University
PresidentMarySue Colemanto Pres-
ident Barack Obama have endorsed
entrepreneurial education. The stars
are aligned.o1000 Voices isn't merely
a petition. It's a movement.
Phase one: Gain supportfor entre-
preneurial communities, like eRes.
Give access and incentives for LSA
students to take classes that provide
vital project management experi-
ence - classes that allow them to
apply what they learn in a real world
context. The Center for Entrepre-
neurship incentivizes Engineer-
ing students to take these types of
classes. LSA should do the same.
While the first phase targets LSA,
its underlying concept affects all
students. Phases two, three and four
of entrepreneurial education will be
shaped by the dialogue created from
this initial phase.
Some say the entrepreneurial
mindset is inborn, that it can't be
taught. They're wrong.
If that were true, MPowered
wouldn't exist. If that were true,
universities across the world
wouldn't be establishing entre-
preneurial hubs. If that were true,
more than 3,000 students wouldn't
have submitted pitches last year to
the 1000 Pitches campaign. Clearly,
culture and environment affect how
entrepreneurial students become.
Clearly, the entrepreneurial mind-
set can be developed. Note: It
should be practiced through direct
experience, not from a textbook or
from a chalkboard. It thrives in an
environment that provides oppor-
tunities and incentives to undergo
direct experience. 1000 Voices will
show our immense desire for such
Students, here is how you can help.
Sign the petition at lkv.org. But don't
stopthere. Reflect onyoureducation-
al experience. Ask yourself: What
type of opportunities would you like
to see? What does entrepreneurial
education look like to you? Faculty,
alumni and anyone interested need
to participate in the discussion.
To me, entrepreneurial educa-
tion aspires to develop innovative
self-starters with strong character.
Students will analyze books, man-
age projects and engage in pro-
ductive social activities. This way,
students will learn how to approach
problems differently, execute their
solutions and build strong, sustain-
aren't as valuable
as skill sets.
It's a widely held notion that our
education model is outdated. In
our parents' generation, a degree
guaranteed a job. Not anymore. We
live in an age of personal branding,
where credentials - what school
you attended and what you majored
in - is less important than the
value of your skills and your ability
to work in groups.
I quote Coleman: "The mission of
the University ... (is to develop) lead-
ers and citizens who will challenge
the present and enrich the future."
And I quote our 1000 Voices cam-
paign: "We call for an environment
conducive to developing the entre-
preneurial mindset, where students
actively acquire their education
instead of passively receive it."
At the very least,o1000 Voices will
respond to accusations of apathy.
Bob Herbert, New York Times col-
umnist, lambasted college students
in a recent column, stating, "Perhaps
more now than ever, the point of the
college experience is to have a good
time and walk away with a valuable
credential after putting in the least
Well, Mr. Herbert, more than
1,000 people at the University are
about to say otherwise.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
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
TERS TO EE SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@MICHIGANDAILY.COM
SNYDER AS COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER
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-the Seeing Red: Kylie Kagen looks at who is winning in the battle
between Tea-Partiers and Obamacare.
podIUm Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium
JASON JACOB I
Give Snyer a chance
FOR: I regret signing the
petition against Snyder
TO THE DAILY:
On Monday I signedthe petition protesting
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's participation
in the University's 2011 Spring Commence-
ment. I did so because I'm quite appalled by
his opening salvo of anti-education and pro-
business policies. However, upon further
thinking about the petition itself, I realize
today that I regret signing it.
A fundamental part of being a member of
a university community is encouraging dis-
AGAINST Attend today's
Snyder protest in the Diag
TO THE DAILY:
It saddens me to see University President
Mary Sue Coleman's announcement that
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder will deliver an
address at Spring Commencement, especially
given Snyder's recent policy initiatives that
jeopardize the University's future. The cut of
$100 million to the University's budget might
seem acceptable in a time of fiscal crisis, but
consider that the budget for the Michigan
Department of Corrections will now dwarf
the higher education budget - spending
$0.79 on education for every $1 spent on cor-
Further, Snyder wishes to eliminate per-
sonal tax deductions for those wishing to
donate to public universities; those making
more than $75,000 ($150,000 per couple)
would no longer be able to make deductions
course, listening respectfully to individuals
with whom we even vehemently disagree.
For me this is a non-negotiable bedrock prin-
ciple of American cultural and intellectual
life. The petition's desire to reject Snyder
- and, strangely, any sitting public official
from commencement speech consideration
- does us all a disservice. It suggests that
Michigan students shouldn't be trusted to
listen, process, accept and, indeed, dissent.
On the contrary, I feel these are, in fact, the
very abilities graduating American scholars
should gather to celebrate.
Department ofEnglish lecturer
for supporting their alma mater.
Inviting Snyder to deliver the commence-
ment address tacitly endorses his gutting of
the University's budget and his threats to
University donations, all while bestowing
upon him an honorary degree. Irrespective
of students' wishes, the University will con-
vey to our governor that we support his plan,
one that threatens the very fabric of our Uni-
versity and discourages successful alumni
Hope isn't lost, though. Students opposed
to Snyder's budget "fix" should pressure
the University's Board of Regents to reject
Snyder's invitation to speak at Spring Com-
mencement. We shouldn't honor someone
whose proposal decreases access to educa-
tion while privileging incarceration. Rather,
we should send a message of concern to the
governor, noting that we're discouraged by
his plans that threaten Michigan's future.
It was announced on Monday that Republic Gov.
Rick Snyder will be delivering the Spring Commence-
ment speech at the 2011 graduation ceremony on
April 30. Immediately following this announcement,
students began to organize protests in an attempt to
sway the University's Board of Regents to vote to not
Yesterday, I woke to an e-mail from LSA senior
Zach Goldsmith asking me to join the Facebook group
"PROTEST against Rick Snyder as Commencement
Let me start by saying it's absolutely every student's
right to protest. That being said, I strongly believe that
students need to give our new governor a chance.
Nothing has worked in Michigan for more than the
past 10 years, and Snyder undoubtedly has a very dif-
ficult job. He has kept a low profile nationally (unlike
other state governors) and has assured unions that he's
not against them and supports collective bargaining
rights. He's not your typical politician and isn't scared
to make sacrifices.
I specifically like his plan to simplify the tax code for
individuals and get rid of the Michigan Business Tax.
The current tax code is too complicated and unfair with
the vast number of random deductions. Also, I strongly
agree with his proposal to reduce the tax burden on "S"
corporations and LLC's. Under the current tax code,
these companies are taxed twice - on personal income
and corporate profits. By cutting this tax, companies
will be better equipped to invest in new technologies
and projects, which will stimulate the Michigan econ-
omy by bringing business to the state and creating jobs
that will keep recent graduates (like myself) in Michi-
gan. In addition, why should pension funds not be taxed?
Pensions are just another way to defer income. In order
for Snyder to remain transparent, consistent and fair
in his tax code, he must fight to tax pension income as
I understand that many students are upset that Sny-
der was chosen to deliver the Spring Commencement
speech because of his proposal to cut funding for higher
education. This is a difficult decision because it's impor-
tant to maintain the strong reputation that schools like
the University of Michigan and Michigan State Uni-
versity have. However, the university communities are
comprised of very smart minds. I'm confident that they
will be able to be more efficient with the money they
have while maintaining their prestige and ability to
recruit top students and professors.
I like that Snyder is attempting to run the state like
a business. He's not worried about appeasing special
interests. He's trying to make the state more efficient
and collaborative. People read headlines that say "cor-
porate tax cuts" and "decrease state employee wages"
and immediately assume Snyder is just trying to make
the rich richer at the expense of the middle and lower
classes. People are obviously goingto be upset with bud-
get cuts and the increase in taxes, but Snyder is a smart
businessman with a proven track record.
Despite this, Snyder isn't going to use his opportu-
nity to address the student body to transcend a political
message; he has proven himself to be above that politi-
cal cattiness. He will speak to the outgoing class about
leadership, the importance of our generation and his
experience in attempting to turn around a state that
desperately needs help. Snyder has demonstrated excel-
lent leadership ability. He possesses three degrees from
the University, and prior to stepping into the governor's
chair, Snyder ran an extremely successful business
located in Ann Arbor. So whether you agree with his
political agenda or not, give him a chance and listen to
what he has to say.
Jason Jacob is a Ross School of Business senior.