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June 02, 2003 - Image 20

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2003-06-02

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Orientation Edition 2003
letters@michigandaily.com Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
STUDENTS AT THE Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editoria reflect the opinion of
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
SINCE 1890 necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
A s Ann Arbor residents say good- commercialization threatens to disrupt.
bye to longtime Ann Arbor busi- S aJj ~at1 1 n oYet, one by one, these stores are dis-
nesses such as Decker Drugs, appearing. The closures cannot be
Ethnic Creation, Shiva Moon, Lure and Decreasing number of local businesses is troubling blamed on just one factor, but a combi-
Boss Guitar, they will be saying good- nation of many, including rent increases,
bye to independent mom-and-pop-type poor economic situations, downtown
businesses and good-bye to diversity many students overlook the importance The independently owned stores con- commercial competition along with
and originality. of supporting local businesses. tinue to make the city attractive because commercial stores that are also begin-
On April 29, one of campus's two The effort to maintain a local identi- residents cannot find similar stores any- ning to spring up on the outskirts of the
drug stores, Decker Drugs, closed its ty in downtown Ann Arbor has been a where else. Independent stores are also downtown area, drawing in customers
doors as a result of the steadily increas- struggle for quite some time. Ten years dedicated to the city, involved in its with low prices and more selection. The
ing Ann Arbor rent rates, leaving stu- ago, Ann Arbor had a diverse selection improvement and development. They are continual development of such circum-
dents with only one campus pharmacy. of record stores, department stores, often the first to participate in and help stances will eventually diminish the
Ethnic Creations is soon to follow as it among others. Then, in 1999, Ann Arbor fund local meta. They also support number of options available to con-
wraps up sales and prepares to move to began to lose its special atmosphere University club teams and organizations. sumers. If local stores continue to vanish
its new location in the Westgate shop- with the loss of Schoolkids Indie Furthermore, quality customer service from the streets of Ann Arbor, con-
ping center on Old West Side. The recent Records and Campus Bike and Toys. is far superior at these institutions, as sumers will be forced to turn toward
departure of so many local businesses State Street has been metamorphosiz- many local proprietors take the time to chain stores for all of their needs.
this year has left students and residents ing into a row of franchised bagel and get to know their regular customers. The The local government, students and
alike to wonder who is next and for how coffee shops, yet hidden away, are the independent owners give themselves residents must make an effort to keep
much longer Ann Arbor can maintain its independent stores that supply down- wholly to their businesses, as well as their these independent shops open. It is time
unique and bohemian motif. town Ann Arbor with a flare unmatched city. Rod's Diner, for example, would not the government allocated resources and
Over the past few years, the streets of by other cities of its size. Local stores have the same ambience without the pic- worked with proprietors in order to aid
Ann Arbor have begun to shift from a planted the seeds of Ann Arbor, and it is tures of their patrons on the walls. these local businesses. It is time for stu-
hub of independent, novelty stores with because of these local businesses that In a sense, these proprietorships bind dents and residents to consider shopping
local flare to a commercialized network the downtown has grown into something our city and university together, creating at more independently owned stores. For
of franchises and chain stores. While beyond a consumer haven; it gained its a sense of community. It is this sense of when these independent shops go, so do
commercially operated stores may be edge over other cities by developing a community and this important aspect of novelty, diversity and familiarity. In a
easier on the average student's wallet, rich cultural experience. our own identities that the current over- sense, so does Ann Arbor.



A s the first academic year of
University President Mary Sue i
Coleman's tenure comes to a close,
she has yet to assert herself as a prominent
leader during a controversial period in
University history. She has yet to demon-
strate an ability to effectively lead the
University in a clear and exciting manner.
Since ascending to her post, Coleman has cc
shown a disturbing lack of involvement in
student affairs, managing to remain remark-
ably absent from students' lives. To take an active role in
the University, the president needs to make a conscious
effort to have her presence felt around the campus.
Throughout the year, she has been absent from student
functions and is rarely seen around the campus.
From the beginning of her tenure, she has shown a
reluctance to interact with students at close proximity. She
has declined to teach a course this year, a highly-valued
tradition that had kept past University presidents and
administrators in close contact with students.
Furthermore, Coleman has closed off the usual avenues of
student-president contact of the past. For example, the
fireside chats and coffee hours that had allowed con-
cerned students to inform the current president of student
issues at the University are now often invitation only.
When student groups do approach her, Coleman has
not made an effort to address their concerns in a prompt
and effective manner. Recently, when Students
Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality, together
with workers from the Toledo-based facility Morgan
Linen Services Inc. and union representatives from the
United Needletrade, Industrial and Textile Employees,
asked Coleman to terminate all University contracts with
Morgan due to their mistreatment of workers, Coleman
was vague and indecisive in her response. While former
interim President B. Joseph White promptly cut the
University's contract with the New Era Cap Co. last year
in order to pressure New Era to negotiate pay and condi-
tions with their employees, Coleman merely agreed not
to renew their long-term contracts, leaving herself a
loophole to stay invested in Morgan through short-term

valuating the presideni
not in Iowa anymore
leman's first year marked by indecisiven
The incident concerning Morgan also illustrates
Coleman's reluctance to take decisive action. Her
response to the the conflict was to create a taskforce to
recommend a new purchasing policy. While taskforces
can help shed light on important issues and find possible
solutions, they are not a solution in and of themselves. If
any real action does come out of the committee, it is like-
ly to be long overdue.
Coleman's failure to take decisive action on issues of
such import to the University demonstrates an addi-
tional area of concern regarding her tenure as pres-
ident: She has thus far been unsuccessful in enhancing the
University's intellectual atmosphere. This failure to
address the pressing issues of the day is enough to make
students long for the days when university presidents
across the country were intellectual giants pursuing ambi-
tious goals. Unlike these leaders, such as Princeton
University President Woodrow Wilson, Coleman seems
intent on avoiding controversy that would challenge both
faculty and students. The University president should
touch the hearts and minds of the students who will soon
take their places on the world's stage, steering the country
into the future.
This hesitancy is further evident in Coleman's inabil-
ity to become a voice for the University across the
country and the world. The affirmative action law-
suits provided her with many opportunities to raise her
national stature. She has been unsuccessful in this arena.
Coleman has never made a television appearance to
defend the University's position on the affirmative action
lawsuits. The most important step she took to garner

media attention for the cause was to submit
an opinion piece to The Washington Post.
This was not the type of active campaign
that the University deserved to have mount-
ed on its behalf in regards to such an impor-
tant issue.
When the University Board of Regents
selected Coleman to be the next president,
ess they were taking a historic action, as
Coleman is one of only a few women head-
ing an elite university. This provided
Coleman with the unique opportunity to achieve national
stature. She remains, however, unknown around the coun-
try. Brown University President Ruth Simmons, in com-
parison, has instantly rocketed to national prominence.
She has spoken at the National Press Club, has been on
"60 Minutes" and has made appearances at prominent
national events. On the other hand, despite the aforemen-
tioned opportunities, Coleman is not regarded as a
dynamic leader.
Most importantly, Coleman has not clearly outlined
her ideas for the future of the University. After her
first year as president, there remains no signifi-
cant proposals with which to identify Coleman. Some of
the blame for this lies in the long delay in filling many
administrative posts. But the blame for Coleman's dearth
of ideas cannot be attributed to empty or only temporarily-
held administrative positions. Durng his tenure in office,
President Lee Bollinger proposed such ideas as the Life
Science Initiative, the internship with the Royal
Shakespeare Company and the Master Plan. He sought to
expand the University's international prominence and
prestige in a wide range of areas. Serious questions remain
as to how Coleman sees the University's role in the future.
For these reasons, the Daily encourages Coleman to
deliver a state of the University address at the beginning
of the fall academic term in order to evaluate her first year
as president and to articulate ideas for the University's
future. Hopefully, after a rocky first year becoming
acquainted with her position, Coleman will lead the
University into an exciting future as an internationally-
renowned institution of higher learning.

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