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4 - Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4 - Tuesday, March 12, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

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the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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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.
Scoring the scorecard
White House tool is a good step, but incomplete and misleading
On Feb. 13 the Obama administration unveiled the College
Scorecard, an online program aimed at assisting prospec-
tive college students by reviewing the financial aspects of a
college education. This online tool compares net prices, graduation
rates, loan default rates and median borrowing. Though the College
Scorecard is a step in the right direction in that it serves to make
colleges more transparent and accountable by publicizing student
debt load and financial difficulties post-graduation, it fails to con-
sider in-state and out-of-state tuition differences, as well as long-
term student success.

Femnaysayers no more

The Scorecard calculates the net price of a
college education as what an undergraduate
student pays for tuition after grants and schol-
arships have been subtracted from the cost of
attendance. Also included in the online tool is
the graduation rate of the university, which is
the percentage of first-time, full-time students
who graduate within six years - leaving trans-
fer students and adults completely out of the
picture. Additionally, there's a tab for employ-
ment that is supposed to give information on
average earnings post-graduation, though this
is a work in progress.
The College Scorecard in its entirety is a
centralized place where students and parents
can compare colleges financially, establishing
a platform for the ultimate college search. Uni-
versities can be sorted by interest, major, loca-
tion orscholarship. Costs and default rates can
be compared to the national average, as well
as across colleges. It is ultimately building a
"shopping sheet" that also provides a link to
each college's individual price calculator for a
more in-depth estimate.
The tool highlights financial data but fails
to present it in a way that allows for a healthy
comparison. The average net price of atten-.

dance and median borrowing is misleading
- there's simply not enough statistical infor-
mation, such as standard deviation or the cost
of living, that would form a more exhaustive
report. The median and average values don't
account for the high and low numbers that
may have accumulated at any end of a range
and vary college to college. Furthermore, the
data used to put this online tool together is a
few years old, and it's still uncertain how often
this information will be updated.
While the financial information is a prior-
ity for many prospective college students, it
puts too much emphasis on finances and not
enough emphasis toward other crucial aspects
of a university education. Important deter-
minants like learning outcomes, student sat-
isfaction and quality of education are left out
of the equation. The numbers may dismiss a
student from attending a college that may be
an excellent fit. Moreover, it incentivizes stu-
dents to regard attending college only as an
investment that will increase future income
and deter them from focusing on intellectual
development. This effort by the Department
of Education is praiseworthy, but can be made
even better.

Picture a feminist. Sounds easy,
but it shouldn't be.
Some of them have hairy legs.
Some of them
shave. Some of
them are female.
Some of them
are male. Some
of them march
around cam-
pus in a parade
chanting, "Take KATIE
back the night." STEEN
Some of them
mention the
word "feminist"
only when shrouded in the online
company of Tumblr users. Some of
them don't even know how to define
the word "feminism." Some of them
don't even know they're a feminist
at all.
Feminism is tricky. Its definition
is elusive and varies for everyone.
But tell people you're a feminist,
and more often than not they'll start
to get nervous or defensive. A lot
of people avoid feminism, without
even knowing what it is.
The what-is-a-feminist debate was
sparked anew by Marissa Mayer, the
chief atYahoo!. Recently she has gar-
nered a lot of attention from her ban
on working from home. This is after,
of course, she built her own private
nursery in her office after having a
baby and taking a two-week mater-
nity leave. But before she sent a mes-
sage that essentially said maternity
leaves are for chumps - just bring
your nursery to work - she offered
this message, which actually came
from her mouth:
"I don't, I think, have sort of the
militant drive and the sort of, the
chip on the shoulder that sometimes
comes with (feminism). And I think
it's too bad, but I do think feminism
has become, in many ways, a more
negative word."
Here's the deal: "Feminism"
hasn't become a negative word; it
has been made that way by the peo-
ple who, to put it simply, don't want

equality for women. Taking away
the credibility and significance of
the label has actively worked to
take away the credibility and sig-
nificance of feminism itself for gen-
erations. And the reason feminism
continues tobe a "negative" word is
because people like Mayer - people
with power and capital - are rein-
forcingits bad reputation.
If she thinks it's too bad that
feminism has such a piss-status,
why doesn't she try to change that
instead of just joining the ranks of
femi-naysayers who have been ridi-
culing the cause for years in order
to maintain their own privilege and
derail the fight for equal rights?
The thing about feminism is that
it doesn't use privilege as an excuse.
"Well, if I made it to CEO status,
and I can take a two-week mater-
nity leave, and I have enough money
to build a nursery in my office, then
I don't see what the problem is for
you. See - women have the abil-
ity and rights to do this!" Nope, not
everyone can say the same.
Yes, many of the "battles have
been won" for women like Mayer.
But that doesn't mean everyone
is on the same playing field as she
is. Women around the world have
nowhere near the amount of free-
dom and rights that people like
Mayer have. This isn't a "chip on
the shoulder" after years of hearing
bullshit jokes like "you throw like a
girl" or "go make me a sandwich."
It's rape, domestic abuse, under-
payment, harassment and voter
suppression. It's all the fear, shame
and humiliation that can come with
being born a female, as well as all
of the failure to be taken seriously
with the label of"feminist."
Some people might need femi-
nism more than others, and it's a
shame that such a powerful woman
like Mayer doesn't realize this.
People who question the label of
"feminist" tend to argue that femi-
nism is losing its place in our society,
that we have made enough advance-

ments as is. To me, this is the same
mentality that once allowed women
to attend the University but refused
to let them enter through the front
door of the Union. Instead, women
had to use the back door of the
building. Did it make a huge dif-
ference that women couldn't enter
through the front door? Probably
not. But it said something about
who is granting what freedom to
whom, and how much freedom is
being granted. It's minor stipula-
tions like this that say, "Well, jeez,
we've given you these rights - don't
push it. Just be thankful for what
you've got."
People will avoid
feminism without
even knowing
what it is.
Feminists don't want to take away
men's rights, just like women who
wanted to enter through the front
door of the Union didn't want to
prevent men from going through the
damn door. They weren't concerned
about limiting men's access - they
wanted equal access themselves.
And still today in our society, not
everyone has equal access. When
potential role models like Mayer
send a message that feminism is no
longer necessary, that it's become
just a "chip on the shoulder," they
are falling into a complacency
marked by self-privilege while also
actively working to not increase the
rights and freedom of women who
do not benefit from the same access
that Mayer has.
Being a feminist means solidar-
ity with all women, not just the ones
who can afford private nurseries.
- Katie Steen can be reached
at katheliz@umich.edu.


Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan, Eli Cahan, Jesse Klein,
Melanie Kruvelis, Maura Levine, Patrick Maillet, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Jasmine McNenny, Harsha Nahata, Adrienne Roberts, Paul Sherman,
Sarah Skaluba, Michael Spaeth, Luchen Wang, Derek Wolfe
Cultivating our sustainability

Last Friday, I walked through a green-
house. It was full of students laughing and
talking as they buried seeds into rich soil and
watered tiny green seedlings. I heard stu-
dents introducing themselves to fellow class-
mates they would have otherwise never met
as they learned what tiny pepper plants look
like and how many different kinds of lettuce
there are.
Until very recently, this scene would have
only been found.at Yale University, at Michi-
gan State University, at Duke University, but
not at the University of Michigan. Here at
Michigan, there was no large university-wide
option for students to come together over
growing food, to bond over pepper plants, or
to learn what produce looks like before it's
bound up under the lights at the supermarket
or on the buffet line in their dining hall. If
students learned about food at all - food, the
stuff we enjoy and talk over and depend on for
our survival every day, the topic that creates
a common thread between all peoples, com-
munities and our environment - it was in a
theoretical sense, such as in a classroom or
outside of school entirely in a student group.
Those student groups, I hasten to add, such as
Cultivating Community, Outdoor Adventures
Garden Project and many others are doing
outstanding and inspiring work.
But this is changing. Until last year, we
were one of very few of our peer schools with-
out a campus farm. That scene I described
took place in the greenhouse that is here on
University property on a workday for the new
campus farm. This is a new era, and there is
real potential for the University to become
a victor in the field of sustainable food. So
many things are pushing us in that direction,
such as the clear goals for food sustainability
set out in the University's Integrated Assess-
ment, the new Food Systems faculty cluster
hire in progress, the nearly-a-dozen gradu-
ate and undergraduate student groups work-

ing on issues related to food and agriculture
and the new courses with food components
springing up every semester.
Created lastyear, the UM Sustainable Food
Program seeks to harness and organize that
energy and the campus farm to create a place
where theory and talk can find physical out-
let in the hands-on and community-building
work of actually growing food. These pro-
grams have come far in the past year. Our
goals of creating a community around food,
of providing a new kind of experiential edu-
cation for students and of providing fresh,
healthy, local produce are already being real-
ized in many ways.
But momentum is lost when it's not sup-
ported. The ball stops rolling when it has no
clear path. And programs falter when there is
no clear leadership. Until now, this initiative
has been student-led, with advice and support
from faculty and staff. In order for the UM
Sustainable Food Program and campus farm
to endure, to bring real food, true sustainabil-
ity, fresh community and creative education
to the University, we need to institutionalize
this program. The University can prove itself
in the field of sustainability, but it needs to
do so by putting its money where its mouth is
and devoting a full-time staff member to the
management of this program and farm. Let's
meet the challenge of our peer schools. Let's
go beyond talk. Let's bringsustainable food to
campus and create a future where our dining
halls boast sourcing from our own campus
farm, where students make new friends over
harvesting their own lunch, and where stu-
dents, faculty, staff and members of the com-
munity can come together over one thing we
all love to talk about: food.
The time is now. If we wait to act, the
momentum dies. Let's do what it takes to
make this future a reality.
Elizabeth Dengate is a Rackham student.

An obstructive move

can't imagine standing up at
a podium for 13 hours, par-
ticularly on a national stage
like the Senate
floor. In such
cases, one might
think of "Mr.
Smith Goes to
I'm curious to
know what was
going through
Sen. Rand Paul's PAUL
(R-Ky.) mind as SHERMAN
he conducted
an actual talk-
ing filibuster for
not one, but 13 hours, during which
he questioned whether or not the
president has the power to kill a U.S.
citizen on U.S. soil. It wasn't enough
to break Sen. Strom Thurmond's
record of more than 24 hours, but it
was impressive nonetheless.
It was refreshing to hear his rea-
soning behind the filibuster. In an
op-ed in The Washington Post ear-
lier this week, he said he "wanted
to sound an alarm bell from coast to
coast. I wanted everybody to know
that our Constitution is precious and
that no American should be killed by
a drone without first being charged
with a crime." It appears, for once,
that a senator was trying to push
an issue that he really cares about.
Today, the filibuster has rarely been
used in this manner, as it has been
used solely as a tool for obstruct-
ing the political process. The Sen-
ate must reform the filibuster, since
it blocks the passage of meaningful
legislation ina timely manner.
Before World War I, the use of the
filibuster was quite rare. Today, fili-
busters have been used much more
regularly. Until 1971, the number of

cloture motions - the vote to end a
filibuster - that were filed remained
below 10. However, between 1971
and 1972, that number increased to
24. From 2009 to 2010, 137 cloture
motions were filed. Throughout this
period, both Democrats and Repub-
licans have invoked the filibuster,
increasing its use during both the
Bush and Obama administrations.
Since the filibuster can only be
ended by a supermajority vote, the
procedure allows minorities to stall
legislation without even having to
speak. This has made it easier for
the lowest ranking members of the
Senate to hold up a bill even if it has
majority support. As Sen. Jeff Merk-
ley (D-Ore.) has said in a resolution,
the silent filibuster has become "an
instrument of partisan politics."
In recent years, the filibuster
has been used solely as a roadblock
instead of as a tool to raise important
questions about legislation or nomi-
nations.The destructive nature ofthe
filibuster has been furthered mainly
by the creation of the dual-track sys-
tem. This system allows the majority
leader, with unanimous consent or
approval of the minority leader, to set
aside the filibustered legislation and
move on to another issug. There are
no consequences for senators, so they
can continue to use it as an obstacle
without any concerns.
In terms of solutions, Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid has
been working to pass filibuster
reform with Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell. Senators Tom Udall
(D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
and Tom Harkin (I-Iowa) have also
been working on another plan. How-
ever, neither of these proposals will
be adequate.
The Senate, first of all, needs to

provide the parties with incentives to
not filibuster. To do this, they should
replace the silent filibuster with the
talking filibuster and eliminate the
dual-track system. Invoking the fili-
buster should have consequences to
the senator initiatingthe process.
Filibusters are
a destructive
In addition, there are two other
ideas that have received less atten-
tion but could each have a dramatic
positive impact. A cap on the num-
ber of filibusters that can be used by
each party during a session of Con-
gress would provide discipline to
the process, ensuring that only key
issues are blocked. Eliminating the
supermajority vote to end a filibus-
ter would also be productive solu-
tion. Democratic Sen. Al Franken,
for example, has suggested that the
minority should be forced to get 40
votes to continue a filibuster.
Until the Senate passes a solution,
the filibuster will continue to act as
a stopgap for vital legislation. What
once was intended to give a voice to
minorities has become a major tool
for policy gridlock. According to
Ezra Klein of The Washington Post,
Paul's filibuster was an example of a
"rare and unusual effort to ... draw
attention to a senator's very real
concerns on a very serious issue."
Hopefully, that can become more of
a reality in the future.
- Paul Sherman can be reached
at pausherm@umich.edu.

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