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January 27, 2014 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-27

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4A -Monday, January 27, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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


0t t
After niany isolated months of sorting through hisfamily photos and online records,
Wes has joyfully conhelded that he it not crazy

From Page1A
last year that aims to raise at least $4 bil-
lion. Schlissel must emulate, if not surpass,
Coleman's extraordinary run at fundraising
for the school. Schlissel will have to keep
in mind that unlike Brown - a private Ivy
League school with merely one-fifth of U of
M's student population - Michigan is a large
public school with a diverse student popula-
tion and alumni. As such, he must facilitate
these funds to ensure that less prominent
schools such as the School of Nursing and
the School of Music, Theatre and Dance can
compete on even footing with already well
endowed units - such as the Ross School of
Business or the Athletic Department.
Arguably, Schlissel's greatest attribute is
his strong background in scientific research.
The University is the top public university for
research, spending $1.3 billion last year alone.
Given Schlissel's demonstrated commitment
to research, there is little doubt that his ten-
ure as president will let that slip. Schlissel
should continue to further expand the Uni-
versity's research efforts. It is clear that this
is Schlissel's primary area of expertise, and
his presidency should push research - but not
at the expense of other essential University
priorities. It is important that Schlissel main-
tains the University's commitment to under-
graduate teaching in addition to research that
happens at the graduate and faculty level.
Furthermore, the University has a strong
history of social engagement. President John
F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps on the
steps of the Union. The University was a cata-
lyst for protest movements in the seventies,
and the student body has demonstrated a
clear interest in peace and justice even today.
The new president cannot ignore this broad
tradition of excellent engagement. His inter-
ests in research - especially in the sciences
- should combine with the school's tradition
of innovation in a way that directly benefits
the students and the global community. Spe-
cifically, Schlissel should promote research in;
sustainable energy. His scientific background
should inform decisions that utilize that
knowledge, while also reducing the school's
financial investments in fossil fuels. Colman
began a sustainability campaign during her

presidency, during which the University saw
marked improvements towards sustainabil-
ity. Schlissel should expand this effort and
bring a new perspective.
As the president of a university that enrolls
nearly 44,000 students, Schlissel needs to
devote significant attention and resources to
supportingthe student body. While at Brown,
Schlissel championed an affordable educa-
tion, arguing that barriers to entry could
restrict the demographic makeup of the stu-
dent body. Not only can tuition hikes detract
from racial diversity, but they can create a
socioeconomically homogeneous campus.
With recent concerns about falling accep-
tance rates for low income students, Schlis-
sel must keep his passion for keeping college
affordable and accessible.
Recently,culturally offensive incidents and
a steady drop in minority enrollment have sug-
gested a lack of campus diversity and cultural
awareness. Strong efforts by the Black Student
Union this academic year - spearheading the
#BBUM campaign and their recent protest on
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - have helped
initiate these discussions. The University has
longbranded itself as adiverse institutionwith
a culture of tolerance. In his tenure Schlissel
will be responsible for maintaining the high
standards this University has set for itself.
Finally, the regents' failure to include a
student representative on the Presidential
Search Advisory Committee should not set a
precedent for the new president-elect. A trou-
bling pattern of discountingstudent voice has
manifested since the beginning of the 2013-
2014 academic year. University administra-
tion has revised a number of its policies that
affect a large proportion of students, forgo-
ing their input. Last semester, the Athletic
Department abruptly changed the key poli-
cies forfootball games and basketball games
without attempting to consult with students.
Student voice is crucial to the advancement of
any educational system; Schlissel's willing-
ness to incorporate these voices will reflect
the University's commitment to its students.
Undoubtedly, running a top public univer-
sity comes with seemingly endless and insur-
mountable difficulties. Yet, President-elect
Schlissel's leadership at UC Berkeley - as a
professor and dean - and as Brown's Provost
shows that he is prepared to put students first
and lead the University into a progressive
new era.

nly days into knowing that
Dr. Mark Schlissel will
become the University's
14th president,
it's admittedly
difficult to find,
any significant
criticisms of
the Board of
Regents' selec-
tion - making
writing this DEREK
column a much WOLFE
more challeng-
ing task.
Before even taking the podium to
deliver his opening remarks during
the regents' special meeting Friday in
the Union, Schlissel's rdsume spoke
for itself. He's an M.D. and Ph.D.
with more than 100 research papers
to his name. He is currently the pro-
vost at Brown University, but before
that spent more than a decade at the
University of California, Berkeley in
various positions, including dean of
biological sciences. By all accounts,
he is a scholar - an impressive one at
that - who is clearly qualified for the
job and should be taken seriously in
this respect.
But career accomplishments aside,
Schlissel's initial words to the media,
administrators, faculty and those
watching online exuded a sense of
warmth, openness and intelligence.
"My motivation as an academic
leader stems from a personal belief
that understanding and discovery
can change the world and that edu-
cation is the key to achieving social
equity and economic progress,"
he said.
Regent Mark Bernstein (D-Ann
Arbor) also recounted a moment
in the interviewing process, dur-
ing which Schlissel was asked what
makes a great university president.
Schlissel answered by saying,
"You have to love and be amazed
by students. You have to love and
be amazed by faculty. You have to
love and be amazed by research

and discovery."
Sure, this is all academic rheto-
ric. But his tone demonstrated to
me a true passion for academia as a
whole, for faculty and for students
- he did spend almost eight years
in graduate school, after all. Really,
he came off as someone with whom
you'd want to get lunch, which is
perhaps the greatest compliment
of all.
However, it was also obvious
he's not a "Michigan Man" and has
much to learn about Ann Arbor and
the University - he referred to the
restaurant at which he ate during a
secret tour as "the wonderful deli in
town." Yes, he's talking about Zing-
erman's. Oh, how innocent.
That being said, he acknowledg-
es his lack of knowledge about the
University, and his preparedness to
listen is admirable. As he said, "The
best ideas come from the people
who do the teaching and the learn-
ing, so that's why I need to do some
listening first."
We can only hope he will follow
through on this promise to listen to
students. But while it's encourag-
ing to see someone who wants to
embrace the University before imple-
menting his own goals, it can only
last so long before significant action
is required.
For example, the #BBUM cam-
paign is only the tip of the iceberg
of the significant diversity issues
on campus. And while the Univer-
sity attempted to address concerns
through an e-mail sent by Provost
Martha Pollack to the University
community on Jan. 16, they are
issues that won't be reconciled by
the time Schlissel takes office.
It was promisingto hear Schlissel
speak on the importance of diversi-
ty during the press conference. He
said, "You can't achieve excellence
as an academic institution without
being diverse because we live in a
world where people can look at the
same set of facts and interpret them

differently from each other."
Given this standard he has
set, it should be expected that he
understands the ongoing diversity
issues on campus and subsequently
makes a concerted effort to actually
address them early in his presidency
- something beyond the "we're lis-
tening" comments we've grown so
accustomed to. And if he fails to do
so, he should be held accountable.
His skills in handling the Vic-
tors for Michigan campaign will
also prove critical to the well-being
of students, given the goal of rais-
ing $1 billion for financial aid pur-
poses. Unlike current University
President Mary Sue Coleman, who
was the president of the University
of Iowa before coming to the Uni-
versity, Schlissel has never held a
position that requires significant
fundraising duties beyond filling
out grants for research projects or
possibly minor initiatives when he
was a dean. He must find a way to
be committed to providing stu-
dents with an affordable education,
despite his lack of experience.
In all, even with these concerns,
Schlissel made a fantastic first
impression in appealing to both
faculty and students. It appears
that he is ready to tackle the chal-
lenge of running one of the United
States' premier institutions despite
being a somewhat surprising selec-
tion - a topic that Michael Proppe,
president of Central Student Gov-
ernment, spoke about.
"He was not one of the names
we'd heard floating around, so
people are really excited to engage
with him and get to know him,"
Proppe said.
But with his term beginning July
1, that gives us plenty of time to learn
more about him as well. And we can
start with figuring out how to pro-
nounce his name.
-Derek Wolfe can be reached
at dewolfe@umich.edu,

A sharp divide

ne day, two impacts. One audience,
two speeches. One language, two
This past Martin Luther
King, Jr. Day, a day meant:
to honor unity and togeth-
erness, was a moment
filled with divides born'
from our commonalities. F
The pivotal day turned
into the backdrop for Uni-
versity President Mary Sue
Coleman and members of MAJA
the Black Student Union TOSIC
to share their separate
proclamations. Their inti-
mately tied and uniquely
distinct messages created an important jux-
taposition that needs to be examined. The
differences between the two span beyond the
order of their words.
One voice made promises. The ability to
make promises to others carries much power
and agency.
The other made demands. Demands echo a
history of being unheard and misrepresented.
One speaker simply had to approach the
podium and be welcomed by an applauding
audience. Her voice was soft into the micro-
phone, but it was amplified instantly for hun-
dreds of ears to hear.
The other speakers had to take command
of a space that routinely excluded them. They
had to create a stage of their own. They had
to shout over others to be heard. They had to
captivate the audience to be recognized.
One act was a welcomed speech.
And the other was seen as a disturbance.
One voice is the epitome of power and
The other is systematically silenced.
One is white.
The other is Black. Dark as the fierce night
and light as the blinding day.
One voice was wholeheartedly respected.
The other was misconstrued and misrep-
Despite their divides, both voices stra-
tegically chose MLK Day as the important
moment to unveil their messages. But they

chose the same day for very different reasons.
MLK Day is a time of reflection, a pause in
our lives to compare the past to the present.
Both groups - the administration and the
BSU students - chose this moment of reflec-
tion because it primed their audience and
strengthened their messages. However, the
spirit and story of King was pulled into dif-
ferent directions by the two.
One took MLK Day and the spirit to cham-
pion his legacy and to prove how far the Uni-
versity has come.
The other took the essence of King and
came to embody his rebellious and truth-
seeking nature.
One used King's legacy as a marker of prog-
ress and success.
The other looked back onto King to portray
how little has changed.
Perhaps one message washed us in more
hard-to-believe tales.
And perhaps the other voice fought to
restore sight to those who are blind.
So, where does the truth lie?
Perhaps it lies in the messages and
responses. Coleman spoke about the changes
the administration vows to take. She listed
three separate and immediate steps that are
solutions to the concerns students of color
and the BSU have raised. She said the BSU
students have been heard. But have they? Or
has their threat to the Victors Campaign and
to her own legacy been heard?
In response to the BSU students' demon-
stration, some members of the administration
met with students this past Friday to discuss
future steps. The students left feeling hope-
ful, and maybe the administration left feeling
relieved. But the past tells us to be cautious
in believing that the University will listen to
students seeking more diversity and inclu-
sivity. The University has consistently shied
away from complying with student demands
and creating a truly inclusive community.
Only time will tell how much the students
have been heard. Then we will know where
the truth lies.
- Maja Tosic can be reached
at tosimaj@umich.edu.

Barry Belmont, Rima Fadlallah, Nivedita Karki, Jordyn Kay, Kellie
Halushka, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Victoria Noble,
Allison Raeck, Michael Schramm, Matthew Seligman, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
In solidarity with BSU

We, the executive board of Unit-
ed Asian American Organizations,
publicly declare our support for the
Black Student Union and the seven
demands they made to the Univer-
We represent a community com-
prised of students of color on campus
that is both affected by and involved
in institutional oppression. While
we cannot claim to face the exact
same challenges that Black students
face on this campus, we can relate to
feelings of marginalization in spaces
reserved for our education. Members
of our community can sympathize
with struggling to be able to both
express ourselves as people of color
and implement change, because of a
dearth of resources available to us.
Currently, the Trotter Multicultural
Center is inconveniently located on
the outskirts of campus, inadequate
not only as a visible space on cam-
pus, but also as a supporting resource
for the various communities of color
at the University. Our community
would like to see a more centralized
center that would change the racial
climate on campus and allow for
greater awareness of issues students
of color face.
There are a good number of not
only Asian/Pacific Islander Ameri-

can students, but also students
in general, who have not had the
privilege of taking ethnic studies
classes and who should be given the
opportunity to be educated on the
marginalized treatment and his-
torical resistance their communi-
ties have faced. It is very important
to build tolerance and respect on
this campus. This can be achieved
through education and understand-
ing. We support the demand that
all colleges and schools within the
University should have race/eth-
nicity requirements, as we believe
it would allow for greater, more
widespread conversations on the
treatment of groups of color.
These demands are not an
increase of "special privileges" for
only a select group of students, but
are a call for increased equity and
equality that will widely benefit
students and faculty of this univer-
sity for years to come. This is not a
claiming of resources that will be
taken away from others. This is a
push for a more diverse and accept-
ing higher education space. We
want to embrace the University of
Michigan as our home and - one
day - beloved alma mater, but our
experiences of feeling like outsid-
ers hinder our ability to do so. It

is time for the administration to
recognize our struggles and rec-
tify the experiences of current and
future students.
We have also heard the Univer-
sity constantly use the phrase, "We
are listening," yet our voices have
been silenced. We hope to see an
institution that has been built on
a tradition of progressive thinking
seriously respond to the demands of
its students. We are all Wolverines
looking for tolerance and respect
not only in our communities, but in
every area of campus. Productive
conversation, but more importantly
action spurred by conversation, are
necessary for a more inclusive and
diverse university. We support and
are encouraged by the demands and
actions of the BSU and hope that
the University will continue totake
steps toward creating a campus that
is welcoming and equitable to all
students. United Asian American
Organizations invites any student
or coalition to reach out, converse
and take action on this issue that
affects all students of color.
Emily Hill is an LSA senior
and president of UAAO. Cat
Knoerr is a Public Policy senior
and external chair of UAAO.

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