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March 29, 2011 - Image 4

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4 - Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4 - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom 9

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

ELAINE MORTON

E-MAIL ELAINE AT EMORT@UMICH.EDU

ELAINE MORTONE-MAIL ELAINEAT EMOHT@UMICH.EDU

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STEPHANIE STEINBERG
EDITOR IN CHIEF

MICHELLE DEWITT
and EMILY ORLEY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS

KYLE SWANSON
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.
FROM THE DAILY
'Hard' rules
State's protective custody law needs revision
mix-up over a bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade resulted
in a distressing custody ordeal and current lawsuit
for a University professor and his family. The incident
occurred in April 2008 when Christopher Ratte, an associate
professor of classical archeology and history of art, purchased
lemonade for his son, Leo, at a Detroit Tigers's game, unaware
of the drink's 5-percent alcohol content. Leo was seized by a
security guard in the ninth inning and placed into the care of
Children's Protective Services. The American Civil Liberties
Union recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ratte's family in
U.S. District Court, asking the court to change a state law that
allows for a child to be taken from his or her parents without
proof that the child is in immediate danger. This law needs to
be changed to preserve the rights of families.

Don't eliminate the electives

loved high school. And this
statement isn't only something
I can say in retrospect, tinted by
the lens of nostal-
gia since I wasn't
incredibly popu-
lar or anything.
I was a good stu-
dent and a good
athlete, just like
many of my col-
legefriends atthe
University were MARY
when they were DEMERY
in high school.
The reason I
enjoyed high school as it unfolded
was mostly because I went to a really
good public school that offered tons
of interesting courses and sports
teams that had 0.500 records. I
took courses such as ceramics and
advanced painting and played bas-
ketball, volleyball and ran track. For
the most part, these activities were
free to me. Around my junior year,
due to budget cuts, a pay-to-play fee
of $50 per sport was introduced to all
athletes, but this was something my
middle class family handled in stride
(today the fee is $90 per sport). Now
I see these options as individualized
opportunities: They are what I chose
to spend my elective credits and my
free time on. They supplemented the
standard math, science, history and
English courses.
At the time, though, they certain-
ly didn't feel like privileges. They
were natural parts of my routine: I
had painting every other day and
volleyball practice each day after
school. Again through the lens of
retrospect, I find myself thinking
about- and missing-these parts of
my high school experience the most.
Today, the idea of having a high
school experience like mine is
laughable. This is because it's now
financially implausible - or it will

be if Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's
proposed budget cuts to education
are carried out. My alma mater, the
Berkley School District in Berkley,
Mich., would lose about $900 dol-
lars per student after cuts. This
means that nextyear, with increased
expenditures and reduced revenue,
the school district will lose a stag-
gering $4.3 million, according to
the district's website. Even if the
district cut the entire K-12 music
program and all middle and high
school athletic programs, the funds
saved would only cover 35 percent
of the $4.3 million. Like many other
schools across the state, educators
face a task I don't envy. Cuts are
coming, whether they like it or not,
and preparations must be made. But
what to cut? Which parts of a child's
education do we value more than
others? Why?
As expected, most districts have
to turn to the usual suspects of art,
music, gym, after school programs
and athletics - anything "extra."
This isn't because the educators
themselves don't value these sub-
jects. But they have little choice: You
can't cut chemistry. Likewise, you
can't fire the teachers - though you
can get rid of any who specialize in
art, music or any other extras.
I'm worried about what will hap-
pen if and when "the extras" are cut.
This issue is particularly trouble-
some for me, since so much of my
time in high school was spent in the
gym and the art studio. I can't imag-
ine a high school experience without
these things. I don't want to. While I
understand that Michigan is in seri-
ous financial trouble, I just can't pic-
ture high schooL withoutathletics.
I can't imagine walking past my old
ceramics classroom, now empty, the
wheels dusty from disuse.
Taking away these things is tak-
ing away a core part of a student's

education. This is the biggest con-
sequence of Snyder's proposed cuts.
An education consisting of only the
four basic subjects isn't a compre-
hensive education. And the results
won't be pretty either: I see a mass
of uninterested, burnt out students
who don't really care about learn-
ing. And why shouldthey?Eachtime
their government makes debilitating
cuts to education it shows just how
highly itvalues their schooling.
'Extra' activities
are essential
to education.
But another very serious ramifi-
cation will emerge from these cuts.
Art, music and sports - all so won-
derful because everyone can partici-
pate - will become distinguished by
socioeconomic class. If we cut art
programs, only students who can
afford to take lessons at nearby art
centers will be able to pursue art. If
schools raise the already high pay-
to-play sports fee, only students who
can afford to pay upward of $90 per
sport will be able to play. Worse still,
if we cut athletic programs, only
students who can afford to pay for
Amateur Athletic Union basketball
will have a chance to develop any
athletic potential.
High school shouldn't be bare
bones, nor should a student's expe-
rience be limited by the amount of
moryhisor her parents make. But
that's where we're heading, with
Snyder's proposed budget cuts.
-Mary Demery can be reached
at mdemery@umich.edu.

Ratte had never heard of Mike's Hard Lem-
onade, and when he saw the concession sign
that read "Mike's Lemonade," he assumed
that it was just that - lemonade. Ratte was
approached by a security guard at the game,
who saw Leo drinking the beverage and
insisted on taking Leo to the police. A medi-
cal examination that day revealed no trace
of alcohol in Leo's blood. Despite Leo being
deemed healthy, his family was not permitted
to contact him, and he was placed in foster
care after spending the night at Children's
Protective Services. After further ordeals,
Leo's mother - Claire Zimmerman, an archi-
tecture professor at the University - was
able to regain custody of her son and even-
tually the charges against her husband were
dropped.
Ratte made a serious error in judgment in
givinghi ehild Mike's HardLemonade, but it
was an honest mistake. The assumption made
by the police and Department of Human Ser-
vices officials that he was knowingly giving
his son alcohol is absurd, and their reaction
was extreme. The security official was right
to intervene, but taking a small child away
from his family wasn't only rash but also trau-

matic and damaging for the child.
The ACLU is rightfully accusing the police
officers and DHS officials of violating the
rights of Leo and his family. The officials
were following a Michigan law that seems to
stand in contrast to the due process clause of
the 14th Amendment, which requires that in
the absence of a valid court order, a child can
only be removed under "exigent circumstanc-
es" or when the child faces "imminent dan-
ger." The state law is extreme in that it doesn't
require officers to consider placing the child
under the care of a non-offending parent.
Leo's mother begged officials to put Leo
in her custody, but they refused, even though
she wasn't at the Tiger's game and had no
involvement with the incident. While it's
important to keep children safe, this law is
rash and assumes that separating a child from
his entire family is always inthe bestwateat
of the child, which is certainly not the case.
The policy of protective care workers and
police officers shouldn't be to take children
away first and ask questions later. There
needs to be a responsible policy in place that
protects children and remains in line with
the rights of families.

9

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, Timothy Rabb, Asa Smith, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
BETHANY NAGLE I
Put MCSP back in Couzens

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. We do not print anonymous
letters. Send letters to tothedaily@michigandaily.com
Messy Scandalous Assembly 9

It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine.
Ever since my first football game freshman
year, that phrase has stayed near my heart. I
have loved this school since I can remember.
The day I received my admissions letter (Dec.
11,2008-in caseyouwerewondering), mylife
changed. I knew that my undergraduate years
at the University would be full of wonderful
opportunities that I could not wait to partake
in. Right away, I knew that one of those activi-
ties would be joining a learning community.
With that in mind, I decided to join the Michi-
gan Community Scholars Program.
MCSP was a wonderful community for me
to be a part of my freshman year. I lived on the
Hill in the cozy residence hall of Couzens close
to the Hill Dining Center, the Central Cam-
pus Recreational Building and Palmer Field.
Through MCSP I was able to take classes in
my residence hall, and most importantly, I was
able to focus on participating in many com-
munity service and social justice events with
people who were just as passionate as myself.
The students and faculty I met through MCSP
in those first few months made the transition
to college a piece of cake. The opportunities I
had were plentiful, and the community bond-
ing I experienced with other first-years in
MCSP led me to have a better freshman year
thanIever thought was possible. I loved being
a Wolverine.
I returned to MCSP this year, along with
about 30 other students, to be a student
leader in the program. As most of us know,
Couzens has been shut down this year due
to renovations. While we were quite heart-
broken last year when we heard the news
of being temporarily relocated to East Quad
Residence Hall, we knew Couzens was going
to be in excellent shape and designed to
benefit our learning community. Having to
cohabitate with the Residential College was
not something I was particularly fond of, but
since East Quad was much closer to Star-
bucks and the libraries on Central Campus, I

didn't complain too much. After all, MCSP's
home is Couzens, and will return there in the
summer of 2011. Or, so we thought.
Last Tuesday, several e-mails were
exchanged between faculty, student lead-
ers and first-year students in MCSP about
a new housing situation for next year. LSA
Dean Terrence McDonald has made the deci-
sion to not only keep MCSP in East Quad for
next year, but also to have us start collaborat-
ing with the RC and in the near future, open
a Center for Civic Engagement (the name is
still being decided upon). Did MCSP staff or
students have any say in this decision? No.
Did MCSP student leaders for the 2011-2012
academic year already sign their housing con-
tracts to room in Couzens for next year? Yes.
Was Couzens just renovated and students
asked for input on how to make the residence
hall better for all students of MCSP and its
faculty? Yes. Have we had many staff mem-
bers involved in meetings and planning time
for our move back to Couzens in the upcom-
ing summer? Yes. While I cannot speak for
the RC, I can guarantee that several RC mem-
bers have not enjoyed having to share their
space with MCSP, and I don't blame them.
One year in East Quad was enough for MCSP.
We should not be forced to stay somewhere
where we don't belong.
The dishonesty that has occurred between
the dean of LSA, Housing offices and MCSP
has made me reconsider what I think of such
a prestigious university. Although I already
planned on not living with MCSP next year, I
feel for the program and its inability to return
home, along with assumptions of expand-
ing the program and maybe altering some of
the core values, such as classes just for MCSP
students or community service events being
opened to other students.
Today, it's not great to be a Michigan
Wolverine.
Bethany Nagle is an LSA sophomore.

arly Friday morning, it was
announced that LSA juniors
DeAndree Watson and Bren-
dan Campbell
had won the elec-
tion to become
the next presi-
dent and vice
president of the
Michigan Stu-
dent Assembly.
Good for them.
A confession: I RACHEL
didn't vote in the VAN GILDER
election.
That's because
I've lost all hope in MSA. Scandal
after scandal - in only four years -
has turned me into a skeptic.
For those of you who weren't on
campus yet, here's an MSA history
lesson. In late 2007, then-MSA Pres-
ident Zach Yost sparked a scandal
when he mocked a fellow MSA mem-
ber,whosuffersfromAsperger'ssyn-
drome, via Facebook. He resigned in
disgrace. This was after a member of
his party had been accused of tam-
pering with the election that placed
him in office. That individual, then
LSA freshman Tony Vuljaj, was later
convicted of that crime - which was
a felony - but somehow managed to
retain his place on MSA.
Campus had a nice respite under
Mohammad Dar, who took over for
Yost in 2007, but then Sabrina Shin-
gwani and Arvind Sohoni of the
Michigan Action Party were elected
president and vice president in 2008.
They were responsible for the infa-
mous debate on the Israeli-Palestin-
ian conflict, which dominated two
long MSA meetings and resulted in a
resolution to watch a movie.
Then came my personal favor-
ite. During the winter 2010 semes-
ter, then-MSA President Abhishek
Mahanti announced that he spent

$9,000 of students' money fixingthe
MSA website, which never actually
got up and running. The MSA web-
site was replaced by one set up for
free by an Engineering freshman in
a matter of days.
And then there's been the parade
of political parties that have been
born and died in the last four years.
Tracking the evolution of parties
gives me a little bit of a headache, but
I'll try to lay it out for you.
Watson and Campbell are mem-
bers of MForward, the party that
looks like it will settle in to be the
most powerful on campus for a
while. Back in the day, the Michi-
gan Action Party swept elections.
Then it disbanded and reformed as
two separate parties - the Michigan
Vision Party and the reMICHIGAN
Campaign. After MVP shut down
reMICHIGAN in the 2009 MSA
presidential election, reMICHIGAN
disappeared.
Then Mforward was born. I've
been a little more optimistic about
MForward, especially following MSA
President Chris Armstrong's cool
demeanor in the face of harassment
and his ability to make it out of his
term without causing his ownscandal.
But even though Armstrong man-
aged not to mess anything up and
Watson and Campbell haven't done
anything to make me doubt them, I
still have a sinking feeling that more
disaster is headed our way, courtesy
of MSA officials.
MSA gets itself into trouble when
it gets wrapped up in things that
don't matter or it gets a little too big
for its britches. The basic function of
MSA - and one it'sfairly good at - is
to allocate money to student groups.
Every student organization from the
Squirrel Club to the Men's Glee Club
can petition to MSA for money, and
it will give out about $150,000 to

student organizations this semester,
according to a Feb.16 Daily article.
I've lost all hope
in our student
government.
That's the function that MSA
should stay focused on. It's not real-
ly an activist organization, though
it can do some good by pushing for
campus changes like open housing
(a pet project of Armstrong's) and
advocating for students' interests
with the state. MSA fails when it
starts to think too much of itself.
It fails when its members start
to think they're, above reproach,
when they think they should focus
on international issues over which
they have no control, or when they
think that they shouldn't settle for
a free - albeit simple - function-
ing website. Instead, MSA should
devote itself to giving student orga-
nizations as much money as pos-
sible to encourage an active student
body with a diverse set of talents
and interests.
Maybe I shouldn't care. I'm grad-
uating in the spring. But when I
return to The Michigan Daily web-
site to check up on my alma mater
in the fall, I don't want the banner
headline to read "MSA president to
resign following scandal."
So I'd like to take this moment to
make a plea to Watson and Camp-
bell: Please don't mess this up.
Rachel Van Gilder was the Daily's
editorial page editor in 2010. She can
be reached at rachelvg@umich.edu.

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