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June 29, 1998 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1998-06-29

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 29, 1998
Edited and managed by CHRIS FARAH DAvID WALLACE
students at the a Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan
Unless otherwise noted. tosigncd doItorials recrt the >Jion ofth
420 Maynard Street majority of the Dails editorial board. Allot er article. ltterand
A nn A rbor, MI 48109 cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ihe Michigan 1bail

A t the University Board of Regents
meeting in Grand Rapids recently, the
question of establishing a student seat on
the board once again came face to face
with the regents. And likeresponses
before, the regents were not receptive to
the concept. MSA President Trent
Thompson and the assembly must not be
discouraged in their efforts to establish a
student regent and continue to build sup-
port on campus and throughout the state.
A student regent has long been a goal
of many students here at the University.
The Board of Regents is the governing
body of the University and directs all of
the University's funds. Regents are elected
to their positions, and they serve without
compensation. The regents hold a public
meeting each month.
Many students feel that they would play
a greater role in University affairs if a cur-
rent stjdent's voice had a vote on the
board. While the majority of the current
regents are former University students,
they do not have the same perspective of

Deniedein
University should have a student regent

someone who attends classes, writes term
papers and spends virtually all his or her
time on campus. A great deal has changed
at the University since the regents were
attending classes, and someone at the fore-
front of student life can best represent stu-
dent interests.
Certainly the board recognizes that the
University's pulse is its students. The
regents' bylaws state in Sec 7.05 that
"Student participation in University deci-
sion-making is important to the quality of
student life at the University, and shall be
encouraged." Student input helps the
regents make decisions that can most ben-
efit the University as a whole. A student
regent would give other students at the
University a peer on the board, which like-
ly would increase communication between

the student body and the regents. Some
students who might otherwise be uncom-
fortable seeking out the regents may be put
at ease by someone of their age and expe-
rience on the board.
Thompson's latest setback with the
board should not discourage him from
leading the student body in the quest for a
student regent. His proposal requested a
student fee increase of $4 in the hopes of
putting the question on a statewide ballot.
This proposal was unlikely to be accepted
anyway, as there is just not enough time
before the state election to properly take
up such an important issue.
MSA should stay away from collecting
fees from students in the quest for a stu-
dent regent. There is no guarantee -
should the board ever allow such a fee -

that the money spent would result in suc
cess. There is too great a risk that studer
dollars would be wasted.
The most promising avenue would se~
to be lobbying the Legislature directly .
raising student awareness of the issue. Th
Office of the Governor released poll result
showing that 73 percent of Michigan voter
would support a student regent ballot pro
posal. MSA not too long ago achieve
some success when Rep. Lingg Brewer (0
Holt) agreed to sponsor a bill to place th
issue on the ballot. While opposition i
strong in the state Senate, Brewer's suppoi
is evidence that both Houses can eventuall
be won over to the cause. *
The founding of a student regent is
difficult task; it requires a change to b
made to the state constitution. And as wit]
any difficult task, the establishment of
student regent cannot be achieved immedi
ately. MSA and the student body as
whole must be diligent in their work. Wit
a strong, concentrated effort the goal of
student regent can become a reality.

Burn out
Senate should not have let McCain bill die

The driving experience
Drivers must be aware of their SUVs' risks

T he U.S. Senate killed legislation to curb
teen smoking and allow the govern-
ment to regulate nicotine last Wednesday
when movements to cut off debate and keep
the bill under floor consideration failed.
Voting to send the bill back to committee,
the Senate destroyed the hopes of anti-
smoking forces which had expected the leg-
islation to discourage tobacco companies'
practice of marketing to Americans under
18 years of age. The failure of Sen. John
McCain's anti-tobacco bill reflects the gov-
ernment's hesitance to combat smoking.
Wednesday's vote was a missed opportuni-
ty for the legislators to limit teen smoking
in the U.S. Legislators - and the public
they represent - should align themselves
behind a push for the passage of legislation
that will directly take steps to end underage
smoking.
The McCain bill would have imposed
penalties on tobacco companies if the fre-
quency of teen smoking did not decline
within the next 25 years. The bill would
have also added $1.10 to the price of a
package of cigarettes over the next five
years. The financial impact of the bill
would have fallen between $755 billion
and $868 billion over the next 25 years -
about $30 billion per year.
The McCain bill would have given
the tobacco industry one of its first true
incentives to lean marketing strategies
away from younger audiences. It may
have also impelled tobacco companies to
actively sponsor initiatives to end teen
smoking. But personal objectives and re-
election strategies brought senators to
neglect the public good in favor of
longer terms. One study found that of
the senators who voted to kill the legis-
lation by sending it back to committee,

all either represent tobacco-growing
states, or have no threatening election
bouts on the horizon. Wednesday's vote
was not reflective of the interests of
America's youth, but of the political cir-
cumstances facing the country's elected
officials.
Senators' neglect of the underage
smoking issue seems unthinkable in light
of the recent statistical findings. One
study estimates that about 3,000 teenagers
begin smoking every day. According to the
American Cancer Society, 90 percent of
new smokers are teenagers and 70 percent
of them will be hooked long-term. Though
shocking, these numbers have been build-
ing steadily in recent years. Yet the gov-
ernment has failed to respond with effec-
tive steps to curb the level of teen smok-
ing.
Investigations of tobacco companies'
practices have long found that the indus-
try often orients its advertising toward
younger audiences, prompting many
youngsters to take up smoking unaware
of the habit's effects. An affirmative vote
for McCain's bill would have enabled
senators to send a message to tobacco
companies voicing abhorrence for the
advertising ploy. But now the message
remains undelivered.
The public and its elected officials
must act to protect the nation's teenagers,
who often fall victim to malicious and
irresponsible marketing schemes. We
charge legislators with the responsibility
of ensuring that children do not make this
weighty decision before they are old
enough to do so. Legislators must use
votes to fulfill their responsibility to
America's youth - not to protect their
political careers.

n virtually any street in America, one
can find the trendy automobile of the
1990s, the SUV or sport utility vehicle.
Popular brands such as the Ford Explorer
and the Jeep Grand Cherokee have become
tremendous sellers for their companies. And
while the driving public enjoys its SUVs,
many owners are unaware of the unique
risks SUVs present. Dripvers of SUVs must
be aware that their vehicles require a differ-
ent style of driving than a conventional 4-
door sedan. Automobile manufacturers and
the buying public must take strides to
increase the safety of SUVs.
The particular danger of SUVs is their
tendency to rollover. The National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration
reports that SUVs rollover at a rate of 98
for every one million vehicles each year.
The normal rate for rollovers is 47 for
every one million vehicles. Clearly, the
designs of SUVs give the vehicles a
propensity to turn over if their drivers are
not aware of the vehicles' limits.
These vehicles have a high center of
gravity due to their tall and narrow body
shapes. SUVs were originally intended for
off-road duties, where their high clearance
could enable them to climb over rocks and
other obstacles. Of course, traveling at high
speeds in such conditions is out of the ques-
tion. But day-to-day city travel requires
high speeds and sharp maneuvering not
originally meant for SUVs to handle.
Too many drivers of SUVs apply the
same techniques they use when driving
cars. And when they need to make a quick
swerve to avoid an animal, or other dan-
ger, the vehicles lean (if the speed is great
enough) much more severely than a con-
ventional car. Rollovers sometimes result
when the driver overcompensates as the

SUV feels like it is about to lose control
Educating drivers is the key to preventin
such situations.
Automakers should adopt the NHTSA
recommendation to include eye-catch'
tags for all SUVs that read "HighRisk
Rollover." Already tags warning of the risk
associated with airbags are common in nev
vehicles. While many SUVs carry warnings
particularly in their owner's manuals, abou
the risk of rollover, a tag inside the vehicl<
- perhaps on the visor - would be a mor
effective reminder.
Automakers should also look int(
design improvements that could minim'
the potentially deadly results of a rollox
Improvements to make the roofs of SUV:
less likely to crush inward on passenger:
should be explored. Also, automaker:
should seek out designs that could preven
head and neck injuries when the vehicle:
flip over.
One must remember that SUVs are not
by nature, unsafe. In fact, in multiple-vehich<
collisionc, the occupants of SUVs are among
the safest. The only drawback in these type:
of crashes are that SUV bumpers do not r
essarily line up those of the other vehicles
Making SUV bumpers line up with the
bumpers of conventional automobile:
should be a goal of future designs.
SUVs are extremely useful and offer
fun-to-drive vehicles. But drivers must b<
prepared for the SUVs' unique propertie:
to operate them safely and effectively
Automakers should take the initiative tc
warn and educate their customers--
well as improve the vehicles structuratl
- so that they come back to buy in the
future. If customers do not know the in
and outs of their vehicles, they might no
come back at all.

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