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December 13, 2011 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-12-13

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I

4 - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

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

JEFF ZUSCHLAG E-MAIL JEFF AT.JEFFDZ@UMICH.EDU
I'm not ashamed to admit But you don't have
that Rick Perry commercial to be a cartoonist, If elected I will
parodies are probably done or even a liberal, % I don't knw.
to death at this point. / to know that , w
making an ad
that insults our I think I'm too angry
serviemento even deliver a
and women, punchline now.
Vv fabricates a
"war on religion" 4
and denies the ,,
legitimacy of ever
religion outside of j
Christianity, is a
Jeff Zuschlag ; reprehensible and
Sidiotic act.
-V
An unparalleled experience,

STEPHANIE STEINBERG
EDITOR IN CHIEF

MICHELLE DEWITT
and EMILY ORLEY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS

4
4

NICK SPAR
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.
FROerTHE DAILY
'U' needs to address issues in FOIA Office
The Universitys administration's transparency with public
records has become a concern. Last Thursday, The Michi-
gan Daily exposed another flaw within the administrative
system, specifically with the University's FOIA Office. The Michi-
gan Freedom of Information Act is a state law that mandates pub-
lic bodies to release requested public information at a low or no
cost. The University is a public institution, so most of its records are
public records. But the University's FOIA Office has been recently
charging expensive fees for requestors to receive public records.
The University's inability to provide requested information in a
timely, reasonably priced manner is a failure on its part, and its pro-
cess needs to change.

In recent years, the Daily has uncovered
closed-door meetings held by the Univer-
sity's Board of Regents and administrators
trying to conceal certain decisions. Another
notable investigation was the discovery in
2009 of the University Department of Public
Safety Oversight Committees' failure to hold
proper elections. In the latest investigation,
a Daily article from Dec. 8 revealed that the
University FOIA Office does not function
the same way as other Big Ten School FOIA
offices. The Daily requested information on
the number of parking tickets given on cam-
pus and employees' purchasing cards trans-
actions from the University, as well as other
schools. While some schools gave the infor-
mation for free or a small charge, the Uni-
versity asked for more than $1,000 for each
request. m
The purpose of FOIA is to encourage
transparency among public institutions. If
an organization receives taxpayer money, the
public has the right to know how the orga-
nization is spending that money and how it
operates. A properly functioning FOIA Office
should make that process as easy and effi-
cient as possible.
The discrepancies in estimated costs to
fulfill open record requests between the Uni-
versity and comparable public institutions
show that the University is not meeting its
obligations under the Michigan open records

law. The failure may simply reflect an under-
staffed FOIA Office, or it could be a sign that
the University's records are unorganized. An
understaffed office should be given resourc-
es to hire new employees, and poorly main-
tained records should be made electronic and
more accessible for the benefit of the public.
More alarmingly, the FOIA Office could be
inflating request costs to discourage outside
scrutiny of the University. While that is an
unlikely scenario, without the FOIA Office
operating efficiently, it's impossible to have
complete transparency.
It's clear from other universities' quick
responses and low fees that the FOIA Office
at the University of Michigan is not operat-
ing properly. If it is as difficult to retrieve
charge card information as the FOIA Office
has claimed, then there is legitimate concern
of whether the University has a handle on
the more than $105 million employees spend
with charge cards each year. When records
are not easily accessible, there is an increased
risk of faculty misuse.
Regardless of the reason for the problems
with the FOIA Office, it's an unacceptable sit-
uation. If the office is disorganized or under-
staffed, the University needs to invest in
the FOIA Office to fix these problems. If the
charges are meant to discourage requests,
that violates the spirit and letter of the law
and should be immediately addressed.

presume that many of my fel-
low seniors can relate to the
feeling of not wanting to move
on. The spec-
ter of life after
college looms
large wherever
we look. For
me, leaving The
Michigan Daily
symbolizes the
myriad of chang-
es that lay ahead MATTHEW
in the next few GREEN
months. As you
may imagine,
writing for this paper has signifi-
cantly shaped my experience in col-
lege and I'm sad to see it go. It was
in the second or third week of my
freshman year that I first made my
way to Maynard Street to attend an
Editorial Board meeting. And in the
three and a half years since then, I
may not have been a fixture in the
newsroom as others have - but the
paper has defined me nevertheless.
It's hard to reflect on my tenure
at the Daily without immediately
thinking about all the people who've
hated my columns. Pessimism is in
my nature, so this may not come as
a surprise. Over the years I've main-
tained some loyal readers, of course
- here's a shout out to my girls at the
synagogue sisterhood - but I also
developed a colorfully diverse set of
detractors. And from this latter set,
I've heard a remarkably extensive
range of criticism.
In response e-mails and com-
ment pages, they've accused me of
being both a spoiled son of privilege
and a militant socialist bent on class
warfare. I've been called an agent
of Zionist propaganda as well as an
anti-Israel pawn of the Left. Many
have accused me of pushing a radi-
cal gay agenda. Yet just a few weeks
ago a printed viewpoint accused me
of projecting heteronormative ideas
onto others.
Hyperbolic to say the least, these

seemingly contradictory criticisms
highlight an important element of
my writing over the years.
As I've articulated my opinions,
I've at least attempted to look at
issues from multiple angles, even if
my work generally took one bias or
another. I mean, let's face it - this
was opinion writing. But from all
of the back and forth involved, it's
no wonder that my criticism would
be so varied. This, I think, was the
most valuable part of writing my
column: the chance to figure out
exactly what I believed. In some
ways it was dangerous to put into
writing opinions that may not stick
with me throughout my career. But
from the feedback I've received,
formally and casually, my opin-
ions and my logic were sharpened
immeasurably.
One criticism has been that I've
taken my writing too seriously.
Indeed, this is something I've heard
about the Daily more generally as
well. Musing on this, I think there
are two important truths here.
The first is that college news-
papers don't matter a whole lot.
Skeptical friends and critics are
often quite willing to point that out.
With the exception of some Univer-
sity news, college newspapers only
somewhat provide information that
other sources - other news outlets,
blogs or gossip, for instance - don't.
Articles are written and edited by
unseasoned journalists and opinion
writers are almost never experts on
the subjects they discuss. And in a
culture that's dominated by social
media, the college newspaper is no
longer the go-to medium for campus
communication.
But ina sense, the college newspa-
per is the only thing that does mat-
ter. For freshmen writers, the paper
can provide journalistic experience
to build upon. And for opinion writ-
ers, it's a springboard for formulating
ideas. Both these instances epitomize
the ways in which college is sup-
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:

posed to benefit those who can go
- teaching both practical and theo-
retical skills. More important still is
the way in which the paper enhances
the University's ability to develop an
educated and thoughtfully critical
citizenry. Though it often plays sec-
ond fiddle to other pages - sports,
much to my chagrin - the opinion
page is the frontal lobe of the news-
paper. It contextualizes the stories
written in other sections, and it's
the sectionwith the greatest stake in
social justice. I often tried to remem-
ber this as I wrote my columns.
It's truly been an
honor to write
for the Daily.
And whether ornot Isucceeded in
imbuing a greater social awareness
in my writing, I can only hope that
my successors will continue trying
to do so.
In the past few years I've writ-
ten roughly 37,500 words in about
50 opinion articles. That's more or
less 130 pages of double-spaced,
elected, extra work. Though I could
surely continue finding material
within the news and in day-to-day
life, I've decided it's time to tuck
away my byline and give someone
else a pen.
I thank you for reading my work
over the past few years, for sharp-
ening my judgment and for keeping
me honest. You may have hated my
flaming liberalism or my occasion-
ally questionable outlook on life, but
this experience has been unparal-
leled for me. It's truly been an honor
to write for you.
- Matthew Green can be
reached at greenmat@umich.edu.

Aida Ali, Kaan Avdan, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Caroline Syms, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner

COURTNEY MERCIER J

Student-athletes go green CONNOR CAPLIS AND BENNETT STEIN [

Student-athletes at the University are going
green! Well, not green as in our rivals to the
north, butgreen as in sustainable and environ-
mentally aware. Michigan Student-Athletes
for Sustainability, a group of student-athletes,
have organized an official career community
in M-PACT - a professional and career tran-
sition program for student-athletes. With
support from M-PACT and the Student Sus-
tainability Initiative, we are very optimistic
about the changes we can make in the Athletic
Department.
M-SAS's founder, Courtney Mercier, a four-
year varsity student-athlete, formed M-SAS
last year when she realized that there were
other student-athletes like her who were
interested in environmental sustainability
but didn't know how to get involved. Shortly
after the Athletic Department approved the
creation of M-SAS in September, University
President Mary Sue Coleman announced the
University's sustainability goals and commit-
ment for the entire University. Throughout
the University, departments and offices had
begun to embrace a culture of sustainability
even before the announcement.
However, as student-athletes, we have
noticed that this culture isn't infused into the
athletic community. When we go to our ath-
letic events, we wonder how a university that
has made such an incredible commitment to
sustainability could have such a sustainability
deficiency in its athletic facilities. The biggest
exposure thatthe University receives on a daily
basis is through its athletics program. When
fans come to our games, we want them to know

that as a university, we care about sustainabil-
ity. At Michigan, we strive to be the Leaders
and Best in everything, so shouldn't the athlet-
ics community also aim to be the Leaders and
Best in environmental sustainability?
Our goal for M-SAS is to be a program not
only for professional and career-related issues,
but also avenue for student-athletes to express
their interests and desires to make the athletic
community more environmentally sustain-
able. We hope to unify individual interests,
organize action and build awareness. We're
not just fighting to get recycling bins put in
the facilities, but rather we want to reach out
to all student-athletes, coaches, fans, everyone
in the athletic community. We want to educate
and empower them to make their own choices
about sustainability.
The commitment that the University has
made to sustainability has created an amazing
opportunity for us to integrate the sustain-
ability movement into the athletic commu-
nity. In order to do this, we need widespread
support from not only the Athletic Depart-
ment, but from everyone across campus. The
University's commitment would not be com-
plete without the involvement of the Athletic
Department. In an effort to create one culture
of sustainability at the University, we have
made our slogan for M-SAS: "We play on Plan-
et Blue," which complements the "We live on
Planet Blue" slogan conveyed throughout the
rest of campus.
Courtney Mercier is an LSA senior.
She is the founder of M-SAS.

Protect peaceful protests

The images from the University of California, Davis
are shocking. A row of people sit in solidarity with the
Occupy movement. Their arms are linked, and their
heads are bowed. Above them strolls a helmeted police
officer applying a heavy coat of pepper spray to their
heads and faces with the efficiency and seeming indiffer-
ence of a robotic arm in a paint shop. The video, show-
ing the extensive use of pepper spray against non-violent
protesters, immediately strikes as an inexplicable and
indefensible overreaction and abuse of power. On Nov.29,
University students held a vigil on the Diag in support of
UC-Davis and UC-Berkeley students. The use of pepper
spray on non-violent protesters is inhumane, unethical
and unconstitutional. The health of our democracy and
the vitality of the college campus as a haven for non-vio-
lent social protest rely on a police force that protects free
speech, not brutalizes it.
We are fortunate that the University has a deep and
proud history of non-violent protest, dating back to the
1960s anti-Vietnam War protests. Campus saw the rise
and fall of the Students for a Democratic Society's anti-
war leadership. The 1970's included the Black Action
Movement's campus-wide strike to protest low minority
enrollment. These protests and their legacy of student
activism have developed a community that stands firmly
behind the First Amendment in its respect for peaceful
protest. Our University community, however, must work
actively to not only preserve free speech but also expand
the right to those still silenced.
Though much of the non-violent protests at the Uni-
versity have been correctly tolerated, we cannot forget
the less-than-shining moments in our recent past. In
April 2007, the Department of Public Safety unneces-
sarily arrested 12 students who had staged a sit-in at the
Fleming Administration Building as part of a Students
Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality campaign.
In October 2010, the University attempted to charge
a security fee to the student group Students For Life to
pay for an unsolicited DPS presence to monitor protests
of their event. The University eventually revoked the fee,

as it is unconstitutional to financially burden a speaker
because of a potential hostile reaction to her speech.
These local examples as well as the news from around
the country show a growing need for action to prevent
the erosion of this critical liberty and further extend it
to all individuals.
In response to inquiries by the university's chapter of
the American Civil Liberties Union, the University fur-
thered its protection of speech this year as it reviewed
and reformed its trespass policy. The new policy limits
DPS's discretion in banning individuals from campus and
ends the practice of lifetime bans without review. Addi-
tionally, this year the University stood proudly behind
History Prof. Juan Cole, as reports emerged that the
CIA had targeted him as a prominent critic of the Iraq
War and Middle East policy. University Provost Philip
Hanlon wrote in response to the insulting news, "Free
expression of views is essential to dynamic dialogue and
debate." The ACLU of Michigan sued the CIA demanding
that it turn over all documents relatingto professor Cole.
We seethe health and safety of our University and com-
munity threatened not by peaceful protesters, but by any
force that threatens this free exchange of ideas.
There is no doubt that the violence at UC-Davis
illustrates the challenge protests present to university
administrators, public safety departments and the larger
community. The University's protection of protest and
public safety requires preparedness, communication and
professionalism. The University's values and excellence
rely on DPS's continued commitment to these goals. We
call on our administration and our police force to main-
tain their respect for non-violent protest for any cause, at
any time. This is of unique importance as the University
selects a new DPS chief to uphold these principles. The
excessive police force at UC-Davis must remind our cam-
pus of the need to unceasingly demand free speech for all.
Connor Caplis is an LSA freshman and Bennett
Stein is a Public Policy senior. They are members
of the ACLU-UM undergraduate chapter.

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