4A - Thursday, September 26, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A -Thusda, Spteber 6, 013TheMiciga Daiy -micigadaiyco
4e Michipan l 3atip
Taking the'D'out ofDIA
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
and ADRIENNE ROBERTS MATT SLOVIN
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
EDITOR IN CHIEF
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.
Divest Ann Arbor
Reducing investments in fossil fuels should be University, city priority
Ann Arbor is now considering reducing its investments from fossil-
fuel holdings at the urging of the city's Energy Commission. Specifi-
cally, the Energy Commission is suggesting that the city's pension
fund divest its financial assets from fossil-fuel industries. Divesting from fos-
sil fuels would further Ann Arbor's environmental objective - reducing its
carbon footprint. Although the pension fund needs to be a risk-averse invest-
ment to protect its beneficiaries, Ann Arbor can pursue existing and innova-
tive strategies of making investments that protect public employees' pensions
and avoid fossil fuels.
t's hard to fully comprehend
the challenges facing Detroit
as it begins the process of rec-
reating the city
cy. Tough deci-
sions and cuts
will be made,
but for Detroit to
retain its iden-
tity, the gems
and icons of the TIMOTHY
city must act as BURROUGHS
a foundation for
One of these pillars is the Detroit
Institute of Arts. The DIA, like too
many public institutions, has a his-
tory of financial struggles. However,
it was given new life with the passing
of a tax increase in 2012 to help cover
operation costs. Less than a year
later, the DIA is now being forced
to combat rumors surrounding the
potential sale of part of the museum's
collection in order to cover some of
the city's $18-million debt.
The DIA was allowed only a
few months to relax following
the passage of the tax millage last
August. The millage stabilized the
DIA's finances for the first time in
years by raising the property tax
for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne
counties, whose residents now have
free admission to the museum.
Though the campaign for the new
tax encountered stark opposition
and continues to face criticism, the
museum is now able to function
without the aid of state funding.
The DIA has in place a long-term
plan to remain a Detroit icon and
This recent success, however,
could fall apart rapidly. Following
the city's declaration of ba
this summer, Detroit's Er
Manager Kevyn Orr begar
cess of valuing the DIAc
by famed auction house C
sparking rumors of a sale.
While Orr claims that th
al is simply part of the p
establishing the value of
assets for creditors, he als
options were on the table i
position. Either way, July h
an uproar in the art commu
DIA Director Graha
responded to Orr hiringC
by adamantly stating the
"no intention of breaking
damental tenet of the art
world." He added that th
any work for
the purpose of
debt would Detr
tax mill- a
age. Beal also
alluded to the
nkruptcy The city's new financial situation
mergency and lack of support of the DIA has
n the pro- made this 1919 agreement some-
collection what obsolete. The art is owned by
Christie's, the taxpayers of Detroit, and their
support of the tax millage illus-
e apprais- trates intent to preserve and main-
process of tain the museum.
f all city Regardless of the technicalities
o said all of ownership, all parties involved
n his dis- need to realize the global signifi-
as caused cance and local importance of the
nity. DIA. City officials need to look at
am Beal the DIA and similar Detroit institu-
Christie's tions as the face of the city and not
DIA has assets to be pawned in tough times.
the fun- The mere act of hiring an appraiser
museum shows a priority toward finding a
se sale of short-term solution to a long-term
there is no doubt
'Olt needs its most that the master-
pieces at the DIA
ecious icon as it could bring in sig-
nificant funds, it
uilds its identity would do nothing
id signific"nce. to solve structur-
al problems that
caused the city's
Despite being independent of the Energy
Commission, the Ann Arbor City Council is
seriously considering passing the suggested
resolution to divest its pension fund from
nonrenewable energy. Via its Climate Action
Plan, the council has made it dlear that reduc-
ing the city's carbon footprint is a priority.
This plan commits Ann Arbor to the goal of
reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions by 90
percent by the year 2050. Yet, the council is
conflicted when it comes to risking its pen-
sion fund. "I really want to be able to vote
for this, but I'm really, really struggling with
our responsibility to our city taxpayers,"
said Councilmember Stephen Kunselman.
It has been suggested that instead of divest-
ing from fossil fuels, the city should invest in
The Energy Commission's initiative in sug-
gesting this resolution is an admirable exam-
ple that should be followed by other cities and
institutions. By reducing its financial engage-
mentfromthese energycompanies, AnnArbor
will join other institutions and municipalities
in advocating the transition to 'green' energy.
The city council's decision here will reveal its
commitment to its own mandate set in the Cli-
mate Action Plan.
While implementing an environmentally
conscious plan, it's possible for the city to
maintain the reliability of its pension fund.
As the University's endowment invest shows,
fossil-fuel companies tend to be very safe
investments. But Nancy Walker, the execu-
tive director of the city's retirement system,
has said that there are other financial portfo-
lios that provide equally safe returns without
resorting to coal and oil companies. In doing
this, the pension fund needs to take care in
verifying that the investments made are low
risk so as not to jeopardize employee pensions.
It's estimated that the University has more
than $900 million invested in the fossil fuel
industry, though specific data on the Univer-
sity's investments are not available to the pub-
lic. The Divest and Invest campaign, a group
of students, faculty and community members,
has called on University administration to
be transparent with its endowment invest-
ments - with the ultimate goal of divesting
from nonrenewable energy industries. With
the influx of donations coming to the Univer-
sity, administration should take the opportu-
nity to examine its existing investments and
withdraw from those that don't align with its
mission. The University should follow Ann
Arbor's example and consider responsible
divestments from fossil fuel industries.
very real pos-
sibility that a sale would ruin the
credibility of the DIA as a public
institution and betray the people
of Detroit's trust.
Beal's concerns are not unwar-
ranted. Though the museum holds
the collection in public trust, a 1919
agreement shows that the museum,
which opened as a private institu-
tion, gave up ownership of its collec-
tion to the city in exchange for a new
building owned and operated with
city funding. In recent years, state
funding has completely disappeared
while city funding has dropped to
less than 1 percent of the DIA's total
The DIA has already demon-
strated the importance of its role in
the community and taxpayers have
responded by pledging their long-
term support. Instead of attempt-
ing to undermine this progress, Orr
should be supportingthe budgetcuts,
frugal spending and public support
that have strengthened the DIA's
finances. By preserving an icon such
as the DIA through local, sustainable
support, Detroit can retain its identi-
ty and significance as it rebuilds from
its financial struggles.
- Timothy Burroughs can be
reached at email@example.com.
We've addressed one concern after another, and it's
interesting throughout this whole process, that this
is Whack-A-Mole for a lot of this. Every time there's
some sort of issue that's come up, we've deflated
it and another pops up."
- Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Township), on objections to financing the implementation of
Common Core State Standards educational standards in Michigan.
EVA GREENTHAL |
Hail to the recycling bins
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, Eli Cahan, Eric Ferguson, Jesse Klein,
Melanie Kruvelis, Maura Levine, Patrick Maillet, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Harsha Nahata, Adrienne Roberts, Paul Sherman,
Sarah Skaluba, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
A students' president
In July, the University placed the Presiden-
tial Search Advisory Committee in charge
of finding University President Mary Sue
Coleman's replacement. Unlike the commit-
tee that nominated Coleman in 2002, which
included two students, University staff and
non-tenured faculty, this committee includes
just administrators and tenured faculty.
While the administration is quick to assure
students - and everyone else who has been
excluded from the real selection process - of
how much they value our input, their words
ring hollow when confronted with the fact
that 24 of the top 25 universities included
students on their most recent search com-
mittees. While we applaud the efforts of the
Central Student Government to increase the
students' voice in this decision, the student
committee that they've been granted doesn't
have the power that the committee itself has.
It's no substitute for direct representation.
Everyone but the regents seems to under-
If we are truly the Leaders and Best, why
can't we be trusted to be a part of the actual
decision, when we hold such a high stake in it?
Why have our opinions been relegated to a few
forums and easily discountable online surveys?
The strength of our University commu-
nity is in its diversity. As undergraduate and
graduate students, tenured and non-tenured
instructors, staff and Ann Arbor residents,
we all have interests, hopes and concerns for
the new president and the direction of the
University in general. We're all stakeholders
in this, and deserve to have our ideas taken
as seriously as those of the narrow fraction of
the community that makes up the adminis-
tration and the committee.
Unfortunately, the search's departure from
the more inclusive practices of past searches
and peer institutions is in no way exceptional.
It's the culmination of years of administra-
We find ourselves on a campus where in-
state undergraduate tuition has risen 63 per-
cent in the last decade, making the University
continually less accessible and forcing many
students to take out dauntingly large loans.
And, yet, we're surrounded with new con-
struction geared to boost rankings and draw
out-of-state students. We have less say than
ever in how the University operates. If we
want these things to change - if we want a
president who will rethink the model the
administration has imposed - we have to
take a stand for student rights.
When state funding subsidized the major-
ity of University costs, perhaps it might have
been fair for the regents to claim the broad
authority they now do over University affairs.
But when our tuition money is 62 percent of
the budget, it's unjustifiable for the admin-
istration to disenfranchise students in this
fashion. Meanwhile, tuition climbs every
year with the rationalization of state defund-
ing, construction continues at a fever pitch
and the average student graduates with
$27,000 in debt.
The time has passed for us to quietly peti-
tion the administration for a voice in the
direction of the University. The time has
passed for us to accept a powerless "assis-
tive" role in vital decisions like the presiden-
tial search. We must demand a binding voice
in the selection of Michigan's next president
and a deciding role in the way our university
The Student Union of Michigan is resolved
to bring real democracy to our campus. The
time has come for us to take charge of our
own educations. Join us at The Cube at 12
p.m., Thursday, Oct. 3, to call on the admin-
istration to include students, faculty and staff
as part of the Presidential Search Advisory
Committee and let our voice be heard.
Dave Wyman is an Engineering sophomore.
As a Program in the Environ-
ment major living in a co-op and
interning for U-M Recycling, most
of my friends are environmental-
ists. I'm used to being surrounded
by avid recyclers - students who
take PitE classes that require them
to keep "waste journals" and stu-
dents who drink out of mason jars,
have reusable lunch boxes and don't
mind the flies that surround their
compost bins at home.
Absorbed in my haven of sus-
tainability-minded peers, it's easy
to forget that my small community
doesn't quite represent the Univer-
sity as a whole. So in a way, it was a
nice wakeup call when last week I
saw a student at North Quad Resi-
dence Hall stuff a giant cardboard
box into a trash bin when there was
a recycling bin right next to him. I
felt like I was witnessing a crime,
but he clearly didn't think twice.
No one likes the preachy envi-
ronmentalist, so I wasn't about to
say anything, but instead I'll say it
here: University students - envi-
ronmentalists or not - need to care
more about recycling.
Reasons to recycle go way beyond
saving the trees. Recycling reduces
water use, saves energy and low-
ers the carbon emissions produced
by many industrial processes. For
example, recycling an aluminum
can save 95 percent of the energy to
make a new one, and the recycled
aluminum will be back on the shelf
in as little as 60 days.
Michigan was recently ranked
the 24th "greenest" state with an
overall recycling rate of 20 percent.
Other states, including California,
Iowa and Arkansas have recycling
rates ranging from 40 to 68 percent.
Recyclingshows Michigan pride by
helpingus lower our environmental
impact and improve our reputation
Similarly, recyclingcan be agreat
way to feel proud of the University.
Each year, the University partici-
pates in RecycleMania, a recycling
competition against more than
300 other colleges and universities
nationwide. In 2013, the University
ranked 111th out of 273 schools with
a 31-percent recycling rate. Com-
pared to the top 30 schools, all of
whom hadbetween 50- and 86-per-
cent recycling rates, the University
has some serious work to do. Recy-
cling rates at Michigan Stadium
also show room for improvement.
At our first two home games this
season, recycling rates were 25 per-
cent and 21 percent.
Now compare that to Ohio State
University, where last year, the
zero-waste Ohio Stadium had a
waste-diversion rate of 98.2 per-
cent. By recycling more intelligent-
ly, students are helping to improve
our reputation as a sustainable
campus and recreate our image as
leaders in sustainability.
U-M Recycling, part of the Uni-
versity's Plan and Operations,
works hard to make it easy and
convenient for students to recycle
- there are bins in every building
and even on the Diag - but students
still need to take some initiative.
A study by the University's waste
service provider showed that at
least 15 percent of campus trash
could've been recycled.
Here in Ann Arbor, we're privi-
leged to have an easy-to-use,
single-stream recycling system
where all your paper, plastic, glass
and aluminum recyclables can be
thrown in the same bin.
The UM Waste Reduction and
Recycling Office recognizes that
each year new students, faculty and
staff join our community coming
from all different parts of the coun-
try and world - many of which do
not have such accessible recycling
systems. For people who are just
starting to recycle, it can seem like a
That's why we've launched our
new publicity campaign, featuring
the University's recycling mascot,
Rufus, which is a big blue triangle
with sunglasses and a baseball cap.
Theslogan"Rufus is watching"sends
the message that students should
set a good example by choosing to
recycle because someone is always
watching. The banners are meant
to remind students that recycling is
part of being a responsible member
of the University community.
This fall, U-M Recycling will
be actively promoting recycling
and waste reduction on campus.
During the month of October, the
NoThrowber Challenge will pro-
vide students, faculty and staff
with opportunities to win prizes
by participating in waste reduc-
tion challenges. The University will
also once again participate in the
10-week RecycleMania competi-
tion, which will hopefully improve
our ranking to be amongst the top
100 schools. We hope students will
be conscious of their recycling
practices and how they contribute
to our University's reputation.
Remember: Rufus is watching,
and so is the world.
Eva Greenthal is an LSA senior.
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