4 - Friday, February 10, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
f Ann Arbor, MI 48109
JOSEPH LICHTERMAN and ANDREW WEINER JOSH HEALY
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS 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.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's raining now
Snyder's budget doesn't give enough to higher ed.
In his State of the State address last month, Republican Gov. Rick
Snyder spoke of Michigan's unacceptable 17 percent college read-
iness rate among students - nowhere near his 100 percent goal.
Unfortunately, Snyder's apparent dedication to higher education car-
ries little weight in light of his administration's actions. Last year, the
state cut an unprecedented 15 percent in funding to higher education -
totaling a nearly 30-percent reduction over the last decade. This move
prompted tuition increases at public colleges statewide. Yesterday, the
governor unveiled his 2013 and 2014 budget, including a 3.1-percent
increase in higher education funding. While Snyder's renewed invest-
ment in higher education was well intentioned, the modest increase is
only a drop in a bucket he already poured out.
[The settlement will] begin to turn the page on an
era of recklessness that has left so much
damage in its wake."
- President Barack Obama said during a speech yesterday about the $26 billion
settlement between the federal government and five major banks over faulty mortage practices.
Fairy representig miorities
The budget calls for 60 percent of Michi-
gan residents to have a "degree or credential
by 2025." The 3-percent reinvestment is sim-
ply not enough to achieve Snyder's lofty goal.
A competitive education system cannot be
sustained or continue to develop without the
The proposed budget allocates $36.2 million
more to higher education from last year. The
University of Michigan, along with Michigan
State University, will only receive 1.4-percent
increases. The aid will be distributed based on
a four-criteria formula: growth in degree com-
pletion, the number of degrees in "critical skills
areas," the number of Pell Grant recipients and
a curbing oftuition increases.
The burden of increasing higher education
accessibility does not fall solely on the state.
The measures the budget outlines are impor-
tant factors institutions should be thinking
about. The University has shown leadership
in efficiency by working to cut millions from
its budget each year. All colleges must seri-
ously evaluate how to restrain tuition increases
while providing an excellent education.
The state doesn't have the power to force
changes upon colleges, so it's instead using aid
as an incentive. Snyder's sentiment is strange -
if colleges fail to meet Snyder's goals, decreased
funding would further tie their hands and
potentially exacerbate problems.
Tying the distribution of aid to "the num-
ber of undergraduate completions in critical
skill areas" is specifically troubling. These
preferred degrees are all math, science and -
Obviously, continued excellence in these
fields is vital for a variety of reasons. The lan-
guage - along with Snyder's entire attitude
toward higher education - seems to forget the
worth of all types of education. Pushing fund-
ing at specific programs in order to keep up
with state regulations would detract from the
University's mission. It would be wrong to sys-
tematically devalue learning that doesn't result
in immediate financial returns.
Michigan's entire education system is
hurting and appropriately investing in it will
to secure a brighter future. The state govern-
ment could raise revenue to offset education
spending by raising taxes on the wealthy or
looking closely at Michigan's inflated incar-
The administration uses the budget to tout
the $385 million they've put away in Michi-
gan's rainy day jar - the Budget Stabilization
Fund - in the past two years for future crises.
Governor Snyder: It's raining now.
As I sat in a packed room on
Wednesday listening to
the University's leading
I felt frustration
mounting in the
We had gath-
ered for a town
hall meeting on
ed minority stu- YONAH
efforts. Nearly LIEBERM
every seat in the
room was filled.
Not surprisingly, the crowd itself was
What does this tell us about the
issue? Minority and white students
deeply care about the utter lack of
diversity on this campus and want to
be heard. There are very few events
like this one that compel top admin-
istrators to be held accountable to the
students they serve.
Unfortunately, my peers and I
were disappointed in the adminis-
During the first half of the meet-
ing, the administrators praised the
far-reaching recruitment and out-
reach programs that the University
has put into place. They discussed
pipelines and summer programs,
taskforces and centers.
To their credit, they hit all the
right points. As the mic was passed
from hand to hand, each speaker
spoke to the importance of diver-
sity ina learning environment. They
praised the University's history as a
diverse institution of learning, and,
well, you get the point.
However, a quick look around
campus reveals that these programs
can't be called successful. Either
there aren't enough of them - which
is doubtful, since each speaker listed
off multiple programs - or these
programs aren't reaching their full
Nationwide, 16.3 percent of peo-
ple are Latino/a but that number
is only 4.3 percent on campus. In
2006, 7.3 percent of students were
black, but today, while 14.2 percent
of the state of Michigan is black,
only a meager 4.4 percent of the
University's population is black.
This is a clear demonstration of the
drastic drop in underrepresented
It's true that the drop can partially
be explained as a result of Proposi-
tion 2. Passed in 2006, Prop 2 banned
affirmative action at publicly funded
institutions, including public uni-
versities in Michigan. But, instead
of being creative in the face of this
challenge, administrators are simply
usingit as an excuse.
During their opening remarks,
not a single administrator owned up
to the fact that the University is not
as diverse as it should be. They were
too busy saving face to talk about the
issues at hand.
Pamela Fowler, executive direc-
tor of the University's Office of
Financial Aid, said she believed
the University has the best institu-
tional infrastructure for diversity
recruitment in the country.
Clearly, there's a disconnect here.
If our infrastructure is so strong,
where is the on-campus diversity
that should come with it?
Only when pushed by the audience
did the administrators finally recog-
nize that something was lacking. One
student noted that the number of
black males on campus has dropped
from the 600s to the 400s in just a
few years. Ted Spencer, associate
vice provost and executive director
of Undergraduate Admissions, first
chose to blame a national trend; ask-
ing, "Where have all the black males
gone?" John Matlock, associate vice
provost and director of the Universi-
ty's Office of Academic Multicultural
Initiatives, came to his aid, introduc-
ing further doubt by positing that
the trend involved males of all races.
Then, at last, Spencer said, the pipe-
lines and programs are "not where
we want them to be."
Another question came from a
member of the Coalition for Tuition
Equality. This growing coalition is
made up of more than a dozen leading
progressive student organizations
on campus and fights, for in-state
tuition for undocumented students
in Michigan. The student asked the
administrators if they supported the
coalition's goal and what they could
do to help accomplish it.
'U' officials must
work to increase
Notably, all of the administrators
said they supported the idea. Allow-
' ing undocumented students from
Michigan to pay in-state tuition - as
they do at Western Michigan Uni-
versity and at institutions in 11 other
states - would immediately increase
racial, ethnic and socio-economic
diversity on campus.
But, just as the supportive words
came out of their mouths, the admin-
istrators lamented that they could do
nothing, giving the excuse that it's
a procedure derived from national
policies. On the contrary - this is an
issue that can be easily addressed by
After the 90-minute town hall
meeting, it was clear to me that the
administrators have their hearts in
the right place, but are unwilling to
put themselves on the line.
In the final minutes, Matlocksaid,
"Things tend to move when students
force the issue." I reject this notion.
Students should not have to organize
on campus for administrators to do
But until they do, we need to
stand up now to demand our diver-
sity before it's too late. I urge all of
you to force the issue to the fore-
front of the University.
- Yonah Lieberman can be reached
at email@example.com. Follow him
on Twitter at @YonahLieberman.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Harsha Panduranga, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne
Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@MICHIGANDAILY.COM
Jennifer Dibbern's claims
are factually inaccurate
TO THE DAILY:
My name is Eric Zech, and I'm a GSRA
working in Engineering Prof. Rachel Gold-
man's research group at the University. I am
writing this letter in response to the current
issue regarding Jennifer Dibbern and her
claim that she was wrongfully terminated
from her position as a GSRA based on union-
I began working as a student for my Ph.D. in
January 2011. I worked directly with Dibbern
in the same research group and laboratory. For
the first few months, Dibbern was actually the
student responsible for training me on equip-
ment.Having worked with her for the first
eight months of my program, I can confidently
attest to the following:
1. Goldman has never intimidated her
students, especially regarding unionization
2. Dibbern demonstrated a lack of commit-
ment to her research (logging far fewer than
the 60 hours she claims and often not showing
up to lab or failing to respond to e-mails for a
week at a time).
3. Dibbern was involved in other activities
beside the Graduate Employees Organization,
including the University's Sexual Assault Pre-
vention and Awareness Center.
4. Dibbern was unresponsive to e-mails
Students must make classes
more engaging, as well
TO THE DAILY:
I agree with Harsha Nahata's "Take Notes
or Temple Run?" that educators often ask the
wrong questions of students. But her column
begs the question: are today's students ask-
ing the wrong things of their teachers?
Nahata is absolutely right that professors
and GSIs have a duty to make content useful
and relevant. Students, meanwhile, are faced
from both me and Goldman, making a working
5. Dibbern didn't consistently receive posi-
tive feedback related to her research. She was
repetitively encouraged to come in to the lab to
work and missed multiple abstract submission
deadlines (over a period of many months from
March/April 2011 until the time Goldman was
no longer acting as her supervisor in Septem-
6. Dibbern didn't achieve Ph.D. candidacy,
even after being a student for more than four
years. (Achieving Ph.D. candidacy typically
takes two years.)
7. Dibbern received GSRA funding through
December 2011, though she wasn't actively
working in a lab during that time.
8. Dibbern's research award wasn't based
on scientific merit, but rather aesthetic appeal,
and the submitted image was only used in the
The allegations Ms. Dibbern is making
against the University and Goldman are com-
pletely false and should not be passed along as
fact. It's wrong that she is making false claims
and is gaining support from many people based
on no factual evidence.
I am writing this letter on my own accord to
help inform you of the facts, because I believe
in standing up for the truth. Thank you for tak-
ing time to read this letter and I sincerely hope
it helps shed truth on the situation.
Graduate Student Research Assistant
with a great many distractions. But, there is a
shared burden of responsibility. Learning, to
use her analogy, is sadly not entertainment;
it cannot always be riveting; it's often tedious
and, yes, requires a seriousness and diligence
from students that's beyond the teacher's
control. Ms. Nahata's question to teachers
- why aren't you doing more? - sounds not
a little self-satisfied and entitled. She and
many of today's students would do well to ask
it of themselves.
Ethan L. Menchinger
Rackham Graduate Studentt
CONTRIBUTE TO THE COVERSATION
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CAITLYN KNOERR |
Perpetuating unfair stereotypes
The most-watched televised sporting event in America
is the Super Bowl. Known for being a Sunday that annu-
ally celebrates watching one of the nation's favorite pas-
times, this year's Super Bowl commercial entertainment
publicized the ugly side of the nation's history: racism.
During one of the locally televised commercial breaks,
U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra aired a campaign
ad that currently has the Asian American community in
The brash ad features a young Asian woman riding
a bicycle through what seems to be a rice paddy field.
She then speaks about Hoekstra's opponent, Senator
Debbie "Spend-it-Now" Stabenow, and the} state of
the economy. Controversy sparked over the actress's
monologue - she speaks in completely broken English
with phrases like "your economy get very weak, ours
get very good." Worst is the portrayal of Asians in their
typically stereotyped role as uneducated peasants who
can't speak proper English.
The sexualized Asian female doesn't make solid eye con-
tact with the camera, but chooses to avert her gaze while
smiling coyly. The dialogue of the ad also doesn't specify
the nationality of the actress, nor which country Hoekstra
believes is taking American jobs. The ad just says: "We take
your jobs," with no notion of who constitutes "we," what
jobs are taken or low this is being done. This grouping
gives potential voters a central enemy to rally against.
The commercial plays on adverse stereotypes of
Asians speaking broken English, and stereotypical Chi-
nese music contributes to the atmosphere of the ad.
Hoekstra's campaign also put up a website that featured a
plethora of stereotypical Asian imagery and furthers the
negative picture Hoekstra tries to paint about the flow of
jobs to Asia. Hoekstra's campaign has since taken down
The ad emphasizes differences between the perceived
stereotypes of Asians and quintessential American life.
The rice paddy scene highly contrasts with Hoekstra's
ambiance during his'monologue, attempting to mirror a
more refined fireside chat with voters. The contrast of a
young, unrefined Asian woman with that of an ambitious
American politician depicts various forms of racism, sex-
ism and socioeconomic discrimination.
Hoekstra is blatantly attempting to prey on the grow-
ing fears of Asian economic dominance. In the state of
Michigan, the Asian American community has also been
deeply affected by the economic struggles and job losses
of the recession. It's sad to see a politician use campaign
tactics reminiscent of the McCarthy era to make a state-
ment. The anti-Asian sentiment that Hoekstra sews is
offensive and wrong.
Hoekstra has refused to issue an apology for the ad,
and has paid for it to run in Michigan for the next two
weeks. He has taken the firestorm of criticism and con-
tinues to defend himself against allegations of racism. In
an interview with CNN on Monday, he stated, "I don't
think there's any element of [racism] at all ... The only
stereotyping is of liberal Democrats and their spending
policies." But the majority of the discussion surrounding
the ad focuses on its overtly racist sentiment, not on the
policy Hoekstra is proposing. Regardless of the audience,
the commercial is racially charged in its setting, message
This viewpoint has been written with the intent of
bringing attention to the importance of fighting racial
stereotypes and their portrayal in the mass media. It's the
mission of the United Asian American Organizations to
work in unity against instances of racism, discrimination
and prejudices. We encourage all students to notice the
subtle racist messages in all publicized materials, espe-
cially looking out for propaganda fromleading politicians
during this election year. Regardless of political affilia-
tion, it's unacceptable for a politician to run for public
office by relying on racism and xenophobia. After all, we
are a country made up of outsiders.
Caitlyn Knoerr is an LSA sophomore writing on
behalf of the United Asian American Organization.