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April 01, 2011 - Image 4

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4 - Friday, Aprill1, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4 - Friday, April 1, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom


C 1aa
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109



Hello, folks. GOP, here to tell ye
about a group of parasites that
are responsible for America's
Public worhers

Maybe if I close my eyes,
I can pretend it's all just
an elaborate April Fools
Day joke.




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.
Rebuilding bridges
Mich. needs to repair its damaged infrastructure
Just when it seemed Michigan's infrastructure couldn't get any
worse, Transportation for America - a non-profit organiza-
tion focused on gaining support for laws in favor of progressive
transportation - released a troubling report on Michigan bridges
that adds considerable insult to the already-injured state economy.


Pros and cons of Greek Life

According to a March 28 MLive.com arti-
cle, the report found that 1,400 of Michigan's
10,928 highway bridges - or 13.1 percent - are
"structurally deficient." This classification of
"structurally deficient" means that one of four
bridge components - the deck, superstructure,
substructure or culvert - was deemed to be in
"poor" condition by National Bridge Inventory
standards. The figure isn't a staggering con-
trast from the national average of 11.5 percent,
but with Michigan's decade-long budget crisis,
the state is far less prepared to solve the issue.
The report also states that Michigan
exhausts all its federal bridge money on bridge
repair, and flexes even more money from other
sources to supplement the shortfall. Though
Michigan's budget crisis has severely hin-
dered the state's ability to reallocate state and
federal funds, bridges are a vital component of
the state's infrastructure and must be main-
A report released on March 17 by the Citi-
zens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending
- a non-profit group that is concerned with
Michigan's punitive strategies - indicated
that the Michigan Department of Corrections
appropriation currently uses 25 percent of
the state's general fund budget - more than
what's allocated to schools and universities.
In spite of the sweeping measures Republican
Gov. Rick Snyder has implemented to recon-
cile the state budget, the corrections budget
has remained virtually untouched. Some sen-
sible options that would free up these funds
for bridge repair include privatization of the
prison system and reduction or elimination of

mandatory minimum sentences for nonvio-
lent drug offenders.
In an Mlive.com article, Keith Ledbetter, a
lobbyist for the Michigan Infrastructure andy
Transportation Association, reassures Michi-
gan drivers that the Michigan Department of
Transportation is vigilant in its inspections of
structurally deficient bridges, but that doesn't
change the fact that many of the country's
bridges are rapidly approaching their pro-
jected life spans of 50 years. The average age
of bridges in the United States is 42 years,
and Michigan's average is slightly less at 41.3
Additionally, many of these bridges have
significant surface damage - potholes, ruts
and cracks in the pavement - that are con-
tributing factors to poor gas mileage and
increased car repair costs. If the damage gets
bad enough, an entire bridge may have to be
closed for a period of repair. If a bridge is a
vital commuting route, the closure can lead
to increased commute times and added gas
expense. These concerns don't include the
potential for injury and death in the case of a
bridge's collapse.
The evidence plainly shows that the
nation's bridge infrastructure is in trouble,
and Michigan's is in even worse danger. The
state government needs to reevaluate its pri-
orities regarding the general fund budget to
ensure that adequate funds are available to
repair the state's deteriorating bridges and
roads, not only to avoid the ongoing nuisance
they pose for drivers, but to prevent more
severe consequences in the future.

As I am writing my last col-
umn, and pondering my
time in the Greek commu-
nity, I thought I
would dedicate
this column to
a list of my ran-
dom musing and
thoughts. Bear
with me here,
this is certainly
not an exhaus-
tive list - there RYAN
are many more KNAPP
positives (and
negatives for that
matter) that I simply could not fit.
What the Greek community at the
University of Michigan does very
Creating Leaders: We are culti-
vating future leaders on campus and
for the future. Just look at the list of
business, civic and sport leaders that
were Greek at the University. It's
simply not a coincidence.
Maintaining a great balance
between social life and GPA: This
is not true of every Greek, but on
average, we do a great job of work-
ing hard and playing harder. Simply
put, we know how to have fun, but to
keep our lives in check to ensure that
we will be successful in the future.
It makes me laugh when people
categorize fraternity members as
guys who only care about partying
hard. I live with eight guys from
my fraternity in our senior house,
and contrary to popular belief, we
all have been extremely success-
ful in college. Among the group is a
future investment banker, doctor,
consultant, lawyer, equitytrader and
mechanical engineer.
Creating and maintaining life-
long relationships: If you don't

believe me, see if you will have a
reunion for your hall mates your
freshmen year or with the members
of the student organization that you
participated in.
It may not be the case for all, but
I've met people who are 80 years old
who can still tell you everyone in
their pledge class and still talk regu-
larly to brothers who were in their
house. This is not just some corny
catchphrase that rush chairs spit
to get people to join chapters - you
really are creating tangible bonds
with people who you will talk to for
the rest of your life.
Preparing you for the real world:
If a company existed with more than
$100,000 in inflows and outflows
and was run by a myriad of 18 and 19
years old, you would think that the
company structure was foolhardy,
and the firm would be insolvent. But
this is how fraternities and sorori-
ties have been operating success-
fully for decades. Sure, they have a
backstop with alumni helping man-
age the finances, but they are giving
real-world experience to those run-
ning the chapter.
What the Greek community can
improve upon:
The Rivalries: The only real tan-
gible thing that separates chapters
are our rituals. Some of the best
aspects of being a Greek (Mud-
bowl and Greek Week for example)
involve direct competition between
chapters. It's ok to be competitive,
but spewing vitriolic words at each
other further divides us into seg-
ments. One house is too fratty, the
other house is not fratty enough.
One house is full of douche-bags,
the other filled with boy scouts who
don't know how to have fun.
Twenty percent of people doing

80 percent of the work: This is true
with any organization. Not every
individual can be president of the
chapter, nor would every individual
want to bear the colossal responsi-
bility of serving as a chapter execu-
tive member. But whether it is at a
chapter or council level, very few
individuals shape the way the com-
munity is run. If we pride ourselves
on being a diverse community, why
does it seem like the same individu-
als are always making decisions that
have a tremendous impact on the
Greek community?
My fraternity has
shaped my 'U'
Keeping seniors involved: A stig-
ma exists that the old guys and gals
should be done with their chapter
involvement after their junior year.
After putting in two to three years
of work they are either burnt-out or
forced out by the younger members.
If I could only track how many
times I heard the words, "We are
a completely different fraternity/
sorority than we were a few years
ago." Here's a hint - no you aren't.
The seniors are the ones who
recruited you, and they are the ones
who indoctrinated you into the fra-
ternity and sorority culture. It is
natural to want to grow and do big-
ger and better things, but let's stop
tryingto reinvent the wheel.
-Ryan Knapp can be reached
at rjknapp@umich.edu.

Abright side ofthe Final Four

Somewhere within the money-making busi-
ness that is the NCAA, there's a glimpse of
morality and principles in the Final Four.
Somewhere between the historic basketball
programs of Kentucky and Connecticut and
the Cinderella story that is Virginia Common-
wealth, lies Butler - the undaunted team that
improbably reached the last weekend of the
tournament for the secondconsecutive year,
led by the confident, classy, too-wise-for-his-
age Brad Stevens.
Yet Brad Stevens's greatest achievement is
not that he's guided Butler, a so-called "mid-
major," to consecutive Final Four appearances,
but that he's done so while maintaining the
university's and his own integrity.
Can you believe that, Jim Tressel?
Collegiate athletics is littered with coaches
and programs in every sport that have been dis-
ciplined for violations of one kind or another,
but Butler serves as a beacon of light. The uni-
versity has never been sanctioned. Their coach
has never been fined or suspended. Butler has
been an exemplar. Their opponent on Satur-
day, Virginia Commonwealth, isn't far behind.
Though this will only be their first appearance
in the Final Four, the Rams have enjoyed simi-
lar success. And like Brad Stevens and Butler,
head coach Shaka Smart and his team have
never been involved in pernicious allegations.
The same can't be said about their Final
Four counterparts, though.
While Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun
and Kentucky head coach John Calipari are
widely considered as two of the best coaches in
college basketball, they have both been linked
to NCAA violations. If they were on an Inter-
net dating site, Calhoun and Calipari would be
matched instantly.
Calhoun was handed a three-game suspen-
sion earlier this year - one which he will serve
next year - for recruitingviolations committed
under hiswatch. While he continues to play the
ignorance card - citing an unawareness about
these recruiting violations - I would think
a head coach of his tenure would be aware of
everything that goes on inside his program.
And Calipari hasn't been any better. Though
he hasn't been personally indicted by the
NCAA, it's no coincidence that Calipari has
been a part of two basketball programs that
have had to vacate their Final Four appear-
ances due to NCAA violations. After having his

first Final Four appearance in 1996 expunged
at the University of Massachusetts after it was
found-that his star player - Marcus Camby
- had accepted money from an agent, Cali-
pari proceeded to make the Final Four again a
decade later with the University of Memphis.
This time Calipari's 38-2 record with Memphis
was removed from the records because one of
his star players was deemed ineligible after the
player's SAT score was discovered to be fraud-
ulent and the school provided a player's family
with benefits that violated NCAA rules.
Calipari obviously didn't listen to his parents
when they told him two wrongs don't make a
right. I wouldn't even be surprised if Kentucky
had this year's Final Four appearance vacated
sometime in the near future.
But to say that Calhoun and Calipari are the
exceptions would be fallacious.
Integrity in college athletics has been dwin-
dling. Sanctions, suspensions and fines have
unfortunately become the norm in the NCAA.
Top athletic programs such as Ohio State Uni-
versity and the University of Southern Califor-
nia have recently faced sanctions for incidents
involving players and coaches. And let's not
forget about the violations incurredby the Uni-
versity of Michigan under former head coach
Rich Rodriguez's reign.
It's alarming that these same men who dis-
play such a lack of rectitude are allowed to
continue to be in charge of leading and shap-
ing a group of young adults. College is a time for
development and maturation, but we shouldn't
expect much improvement from students
whose models are coaches who consistently
violate ethical codes. No wonder so many col-
lege athletes have been suspended of late.
But Butler and Virginia Commonwealth
inspire hope. They have shown that middling
athletic.programs can hang with the "bigboys"
without violating the NCAA rulebook. They
have shown that success can come without any
allegations or suspensions. They have shown
that integrity still exists in college athletics.
And one of them will be playing for a national
championship come Monday night.
So, please, don't root for Butler and Virginia
Commonwealth because they're the perceived
underdogs. Root for them because they do
things the right way.
Steven Braid is an LSA freshman.

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
Are college degrees overrated?

Many students, opposed to Republican Gov. Rick Sny-
der's higher education cuts are protesting his selection
as Spring Commencement speaker. How they must turn
red with envy when they recall last year's speaker, Presi-
dent Barack Obama, and his oft-repeated pledge to make
the United States the most college-educated nation in
the world. Of these two leaders, which offers students
and graduates the better vision of a responsible educa-
tion policy?
Before reflexively answering "Obama," consider this:
Policy experts from all sides of the political spectrum are
concluding that a college degree isn't necessarily worth
the investment - not for the student, and not for the state.
The simple truth is that the U.S. already has too many
college graduates. As a result, Obama's push to increase
the college graduation rate to 90 percent is unlikely to
yield much economic benefit. Richard Vedder, an Ohio
University economist, published some telling statistics
in The Chronicle of Higher Education in December.
Over the last 20 years, more and more graduates have
taken jobs that do not require a college education. For
example, there are now twice as many waiters and wait-
resses with degrees than there were in 1992.
Think of it this way: If it takes a person tens of thou-
sands of additional dollars and four to five years extra
to do a given job than it did two decades ago, the U.S.
worker is actually becoming less efficient. It makes little
sense to encourage such inefficiency by urging every
young person to go to college. It makes even less sense to
force taxpayers to subsidize inefficient behavior.
If this strikes you as some sort of Right-wing assault
on public education, you may be surprised to learn who
else is taking the side of the skeptics. Paul Krugman -
a New York Times columnist as reliably liberal as they
come - recently disparaged the notion that higher edu-
cation spending is key to economic growth. Krugman
called degrees "tickets to jobs that don't exist or don't
pay middle-class wages," while noting that advances
in computers are displacing college-educated workers
faster than less skilled workers. Why hire an informa-
tion analyst when Watson the Jeopardy!-winning robot
can do the job better? Unskilled laborers, on the other
hand, aren't so threatened.

It's true that the educated have an advantage over
others to the extent that prospective employers attribute
more competence to them. But this distinction is harder
to document on paper than you might expect. A study
released this year by professors at New York University
and the University of Virginia found very little actual
learning among a representative sample of 2,300 under-
graduates from 24 colleges. After two years of college,
nearly half the students demonstrated no measurable
improvement in a variety of subjects. After four years, a
third were still no discernibly smarter.
In that case, college degrees are a product - an expen-
sive, time-consuming product - with a remarkably high
failure rate. Ifa third of the cars coming off the line at
Ford Motor Company were defective, would anyone still
buy Fords? Would we urge the state to invest huge sums
of money ina faulty manufacturer?
Apparently, Obama would. Melody Barnes, a White
Mlouse policy advisor, made the president's case for
higher education in a Huffington Post article just last
week, reiterating Obama's goal to boost the U.S. college
graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020. Barnes noted,
somewhat bizarrely, that half of today's 30 fastest-
growing jobs require a college degree - as if the statis-
tic strengthened her case. But this also implies that half
of the 30 fastest-growing jobs do not require a college
degree. In other words, graduating from college pro-
vides about as many opportunities as not graduating
from college, but the Obama administration still wants
everyone - or nearly everyone - to go for the degree.
This is lunacy, not policy.
College degrees are expensive (for students and tax-
payers) defective (for a third of all students sampled),
and increasingly unlikely to yield an actual job. In light
of these uncomfortable facts, Snyder's 15-percent cut to I
higher education fundingseems all-too reasonable.
And in a day and age when college dropouts found
billion-dollar companies while graduates wait tables,
should we be so confident that higher education spend-
ing is a commitment, rather than a curse?
Robby Soave is a University alum and a former
editorial page editor of The Michigan Daily.

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