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Page 4A - Thursday, October 9, 2014 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
MEGAN MCDONALD
PETER SHAHIN and DANIEL WANG KATIE BURKE
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.
Unintended consequences
U rankings should take into account other aspects of college life
L ast January, in the midst of controversy at Syracuse
University, incoming chancellor Kent Syverud took a
firm stance stating actions will be taken to improve
the institution's ranking. In a November radio interview, he
stated, "They matter because they affect decision making of
constituencies that matter to universities." While the prevalent
thought on most college campuses questions the methodology
that yields college rankings, the irrefutable truth is that they
matter. Proponents of the rankings say that prestige and funding
are allotted to those who push the envelope and try to leave their
imprint on academia. Adversaries argue that these classifications
aren't a meritocracy but a popularity contest to be part of academic
royalty. While the rankings are estimable in its creation, producers
of college rankings must put forth the effort to provide objective
information that coincides with the interest of all parties included.

Say yes to stereotypes

iles of campaign pamphlets
scatter across campus as
temperatures mimic the
frigid descent
taken by
politicians' tones
as they address
opponents. It's
evident that
election season is
in full swing. For
voters possessing
the desire to MELISSA
acquire more SCHOLKE
information
about potential
options, sifting
through the myriad of pamphlets,
articles and television ads poses a
daunting task. Voters - while they
simply wish to select the candidate
whose platform most accurately
reflects their own interests - risk
ensnarementinsuperficial, partisan
power plays between candidates.
In my brief experience as a spec-
tator and as a participant in the
electoral process, I find it difficult
to recall a campaign unsullied by
mudslinging or ridiculous tactics.
The endless barrage of campaign
literature has fortified my cynicism.
If an ad or article isn't focused upon
attacking a politician, it utilizes
some ridiculous attempt to capture
voters' attention. As a result, I've
embraced the mindset that elec-
tions present a choice between two
imperfect options. Likewise, nega-
tive campaign strategies are inevi-
table, but they shouldn't detract
from the issues. My attempts to
avoid ridiculous campaign litera-
ture were effective until sexism
became a viable strategy.
I'll admit I don't possess author-
ity to state whether or not Repub-
licans are, in fact, waging a war on
women; however, I will say recent
attempts by the Grand Old Party to
attract female voters are extremely

flawed. Considering its reliance
upon stereotypes, it's not surpris-
ing the GOP is experiencing a bit of
trouble attracting this demograph-
ic. The College Republican National
Committee recently released an ad
that reduces women's participa-
tion in elections down to the trivial
debate that occurs in a dress shop.
Utilizingthe tagline "Say Yes to Rick
Snyder," the light-hearted, patron-
izing ad depicts a college grad as she
makes the mentally taxing decision
between two wedding dress styles:
the sleek, "trusted brand" of Rick
Snyder or the "outdated," gaudy
Mark Schauer. The ad alludes to
"Say Yes to the Dress," and perhaps
it was meant to be taken jokingly. At
least, I hope so. If not, the ad begs
me to ask whether members of the
CRNC honestly believe college-
aged women can't comprehend
political matters and can't decide
upon a candidate unless the options
are presented in the superficial con-
text of pretty dresses and reality
TV references.
"Say Yes to Rick Snyder" is merely
one example of GOP strategy laden
with sexism. The wedding dress
narrative was modified with vari-
ous other candidates' information
and displayed in other states includ-
ing Illinois, Arkansas, Colorado,
Pennsylvania and Florida. Michi-
gan GOP officials tried to showcase
their knowledge of female voters
earlier this year. In a tweet this past
June, three male Republican mem-
bers of the Michigan House of Rep-
resentatives were depicted reading
glossy fashion magazines while
state Rep. Peter Pettalia humor-
ously (R-M-106) remarked: "Don't
say we don't understand women."
Understanding women appears to
be important to the GOP, but the
party is demonstrating it horribly.
Even the attempt by Republican
female senatorial candidate, Terri

Lynn Land, demonstrates flaws. Her
ad addresses a comment from her
Democratic opponent, Gary Peters,
who says she is "waging a war on
women." She counters the attack by
silently drinking coffee and check-
ing her watch. She ends this clip by
stating, "As a woman, I might know
a little bit more about women than
Gary Peters." Land provides femal
perspective in a male-dominate
realm, and in some respects, she
probably does know more; however,
biology and political ideology don't
correlate..Land may be female, but
stating women are "more interest-
ed in flexibility in a job than pay"1
doesn't ease voters' concerns about
the wage gap.
Eliminating gendered pay dis-
crepancies is a goal for which I want
elected officials to strive. Currently,
in Michigan, women earn 74 cents
for every dollar earned by a man.
Issues should take precedence over
a candidate's image and amassing
votes. College-aged women possess
a litany of concerns about the qual-
ity of women's rights in Michigan,
and we want candidates who will
clearly state solutions. According
to the Center for American Women
and Politics, voter turnout has been
higher amongst women aged 18-24
than men of the same age from
1998-2012. Women are intelligent
enough to fully comprehend how4
unemployment, education budgets,
right-to-work laws and reproduc-
tive rights affect our futures, and
we understand the consequences
are graver than looking frumpy in
a dress. (Oh, the horror!) If can-
didates truly want to appeal tcg
women, provide serious discussion
and debate rather than presenting
platforms beneath a haze of gossa-
mer, lace and silk.
- Melissa Scholke can be
reached at melikaye@umich.edu.

Todaymore thanever, college rankings have
influence. They have become the standard by
which the quality of educational institutions
is measured. As a result, they promote a
sort of competition between universities
that can be likened to that of a marketplace.
Theoretically, if many competing schools make
a push to improve their offerings, the student
wins. Funding new branches of research or
renovating outdated facilities are some lengths
to which schools will go to attract the best and
brightest students and increase their rankings.
A tangible example of this is right here in Ann
Arbor. According to data from the National
Science Foundation, the University has been
ranked no. 2 in the country in research and
development spending only behind fellow
powerhouse Johns Hopkins University since
2010.
Advocates for college rankings are quick to
point out that schools can also collect massive
amounts of capital to fund any endeavors. In
the 2013 fiscal year, NIH funding at Michigan
was $509.7 million - more than 38 percent of
the University's total research spending. The
rankings also help colleges help their students
long after they've graduated. Job security of
alumni is correlated to school prestige and
having a highly esteemed school on a resume
can be of immense help in the workforce.
Though college rankings do well
compensating institutions that search for ways
to improve themselves, the pervasive thought
among academic leaders aims to reform in the
methodology behind these standings. Today,
many colleges are tightening their admission
standards and are only letting a certain portion
of applicants in with the hope that their
school will jump a few spots in next year's
rankings. As a result of this, universities seem
to be abandoning the less-affluent, lower-SAT-
scoring students in favor of a'superior type.'
While the prominent rankings, like-the U.S.
News and World Report, list names and SAT
scores ofvenerable institutions,this information
pertains to an elite group of students. It fails to
provide pertinent information to the majority,

many of whom are first-generation students.
Professor-student interaction and income for
recent graduates are aspects popular rankings
fail to take into account, chiefly because
such information isn't publicly available and
institutions generally prefer to keep it this way.
An increasing number of schools have recently
said they would like to open their doors to more
people and diversify their student population.
While this is continuously talked about on
paper, it habitually fails to translate to the
real world because of consequences generally
caused by college rankings.
For example, at Syracuse, former Chancellor
Nancy Cantor began admitting students of
lower socioeconomic statuses in an effort to
diversify the school's student body. While this
did achieve its original purpose, it sparked
another issue: Lower-SES students generally
have lower SAT scores and lower GPAs. While
admitting such students can truly expand the
perspectives on campus, doing so can also lead
to a drop in rankings due to the coinciding drop
in the school's academic profile. This could, in
turn, lead to less external funding to support
new undertakings. If the U.S. News and
World Report ranking system were to factor
an important dynamic like diversity into their
methodologies and became less robotic about
number crunching, both schools and their
students would benefit.
Though publications such as U.S. News
and World Report and Forbes provide us with
information that is necessary for today's world,
their intended purpose isn't fully on par with
what schools or students seek today. The way
the system is currently set, measures can be
taken so that it is manipulated. According
to an article in Boston Magazine, "In 2009,
an administrator at Clemson University ...
admitted the school misrepresented financial
information and purposefully rated institutions
lowonthe peerassessments."Inorder forthese
rankings to be taken as a credible source of
information, their authors need to observe how
they are influencing the actions of those who
read them.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Devin Eggert, David Harris, Rachel John, Nivedita Karki,
Jacob Karafa, Jordyn Kay, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Victoria Noble, Allison Raeck, Melissa Scholke, Michael Schramm,
Matthew Seligman, Paul Sherman, Linh Vu,
Meher Walia, Mary Kate Winn, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe

4

Of memory, learnina and training

! ! !./

FOLLOW THE DAILY ON TWITTER
Keep up with columnists, read Daily editorials, view cartoons and join in the debate.
Check out @michigandaily to get updates on Daily content throughout the day.
DEMAURICE SMITH |
Students are right to take a stand on health and safety

You see it at the beginning of
every school year. In that
winding
snake of a line
at Ulrich's the
Monday before
classes, you
see freshmen, '
wide-eyed and
bushy-tailed,
spending exorbi-
tant amounts of ELI
money on text- CAHAN
books they won't
need but were
"recommended" in their syllabi. On
the other hand, you see upperclass-
men, carrying but one folder, two
pens, three packets of flashcards
and four Diet Cokes.
The dichotomy is symbolic:
freshmen anticipate adding to their
"bookshelf" of knowledge, whereas
upperclassmen believe they'll only
need the knowledge the duration of
the semester, and then POOF, out it
goes with the spring cleaning. It's
not that the freshmen are wrong:
in fact, they're completely right in
spirit. But, the upperclassmen know
the practical phenomena of the
classroom: whereby memory cycles
operate on four-week intervals
(unless, heaven forbid, the final is
cumulative). I don't think jaded
is the right word, but I do believe
that this mentality is a product of
the system rather than of the "bad
apples" (as Zimbardo would put it).
How does this work in practice?
Well, we've all experienced this at
least once, now that the first mid-
terms are already over. Class after
class the professor flashes slide
after slide up on the board, address-
ing a lot but explaining little. Con-
cepts are introduced but rarely
detailed. Simplifications are made
for the "ease of student under-
standing." Learning, indeed, is
replaced by such "understanding."
Class becomes the reception of
information rather than the incep-
tion of intuition. Exams, accord-
ingly, often examine regurgitation
over application.
As an analogy: the test is to see
how long you can hold your breath
underwater rather than the demand
of swimming laps.

To make this more concrete, I'll
give an example. As a pre-med,
I've experienced my fair share of
"weeder" classes, and I'll detail one
of them, a 200 level, without using
names. At one point in this class,
we were responsible for memoriz-
ing a suite of specifics regarding
the photo transmission cascade (by
which animals are able to inter-
pret images on their retinas). One
of these regarded the "center-sur-
round" mechanism of retinal gan-
glia (don't worry about it), a quite
complex system to the student
who has not seen it before. I recall
asking a question about the evolu-
tionary nature of this convoluted
system, to which the professor
responded "don't worry about that,
that's beyond the scope of our class.
Just remember what the different
cells are and what they do." In that
moment, the understanding and
appreciation of Nobel Prize-win-
ning physiology had been reduced
to a set of flashcards.
A natural question follows: What
skills are we gaining by this sort of
education, and how will this brand
of education culminate? Once
you arrive at the career fair, the
answers become painfully obvious;
in some sense, school has become
a professional training facility, the
capstone thesis consisting of sign-
ing your name on the dotted line.
Frank Bruni and David Brook of
the New York Times wrote much on
this in early September. As Brooks
puts it, "Instead of being intervals
of freedom, (colleges) are breed-
ing grounds for advancement. Stu-
dents are too busy jumping through
the next hurdle in the resume
race to figure out what they really
want. They are too frantic tasting
everything on the smorgasbord
to have life-altering encounters."
Per Bruni, "As we pepper students
with contradictory information and
competing philosophies about col-
lege's role as an on ramp to profes-
sional glory, we should talk as much
about the way college can establish
patterns of reading, thinking and
interacting..." Both agree that, to
use the rhetoric of a favorite pro-
fessor, we students (via the classes
we take) are too busy snorkeling on

the surface of professional develop-
ment to undertake a true scuba dive
into our interests.
Thissortis asuperficial,removed,
one-size-fits-all education,
delivering information at a rapid
clip to add to our professional
tool belts. It is not the intimate,
progressive self-discovery, which
college should foster. In that
way, I resent the mentality of
the upperclassmen.
I have observed this disconnect
in friends, who amidst recruiting
for full-time jobs, readily admit that
they have no idea what they want
to do. They preface by saying "If I
were to do it all over again ..." I have
too observed this in friends who
have discovered what they want toE
do, yet find themselves defending
against confusion as to why they
didn't take the "traditional route."
It is a strange thing to watch.
Now, I have a question, if you'll
indulge me: How much do you actu-
ally remember from your freshmanl
Psych class? If you're drawing a
blank, studies show that the accu-
racy of your response is likely to
have just as much to do with your
level of interest as with your mental
capacity. If you are like me, then it
was probably the case that youwere
disinterested, because the material
was unrelateable and foreign, sim-
plified and dull. You were just fill-
ing requirements, after all!
Indeed, my favorite class thus far
was the one that causes pre-meds
everywhere to shudder: Organic
Chemistry. It was the only class
I have taken which did not use
slides - only chalk. No class has
been more fruitful, involving or
challenging. Sure, I learned about
nucleophiles and electrophiles,s
aromatics rings and lipid chains,
but perhaps the most important
lesson of all was learning how to
learn and how to think. That bit, I
promise, I won't forget.
And neither will you if you give
yourself the chance. So open yours
eyes, your ears and your mind. I
really do hope you can find yourself
a textbook worth paying for.
- Eli Cahan can be reached
at emcahan@umich.edu.

Students at the University of Michigan have
rallied this past week to collectively express
their concerns over the Athletic Department's
treatment of quarterback Shane Morris'
concussion. My expectation is that Michigan,
and particularly the NCAA, will understand
the significance of those rallies and finally
adopt standardized concussion management
procedures, including a return-to-play protocol
like the one fought for by players in the NFL.
It was the players, through their union, that
stood up and demanded changes to the way
head injuries are treated in the NFL. Armed
with emerging scientific research linking
concussions to long-term brain damage, the
players insisted that the NFL improve its
policies and practices governing this serious
medical issue. The NFL acted but only as a
result of athletes taking a stand for their own
health and safety.
Independent doctors were finally allowed
on the sidelines to spot, test and treat head
injuries for the first time only two seasons
ago. The fact that neither the NCAA nor the
College Football Conferences have adopted

this standard and other best practices is
unacceptable. NFL players are part of and lead
a union that can demand change, and we know
college athletes do not yet have that luxury.
The NFLPA can hold the clubs accountable
for implementing and maintaining certain
health and safety standards. No such thing
exists in college football, and so far, those who
run the sport have been unwilling to act. The
NCAA has a duty to articulate, not just for the
players and their families, but for the broader
community, the standards the NCAA and the
College Football Conferences are applying to
protect student-athletes.
Our union stands with Ramogi Huma and
the College Athletes Players Association to
once again call for improved health and safety
standards and return-to-play concussion
protocols across all NCAA sports. It is the least
that "student-athletes" deserve, and no health
and safety standard in sport should fall below
that of the professional level.
DeMaurice Smith is the Executive Director of
the National Football League Players Association.

a

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