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May 17, 2004 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-05-17

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 17, 2004
tothedaily@michigandaily.com Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
AMEDITSTUDENTS AT THE Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
w kSINCE 1890 necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
T he sudden resignation of Ed Willis' relative anonymity amongst the
Willis, the former Dean of v OS rn extstudent body is a reflection of the per-
Students, has left most students ceived detachment between the
sWatching he ileads an wo ri nas Students should help seleCt next Dean of Students University administrationsand the stu-
"WhisEdWilis"_WileWiliswa dents. Although we are sad to see the
deeply involved with a number of stu- - - - - departure of a well-liked, albeit relatively
dent and faculty committees and adored this when he asked that an MSA repre- committee members must be met with unknown, faculty member, his departure
by many who knew him, he executed his sentative participate in finding a new qualified students. Unfortunately, deter- presents an opportunity that should not be
duties with little fanfare or recognition. dean. However, Mironov did not go far mining which students are qualified missed. In light of this year's debacle
As a result, despite his unrelenting ded- enough: involving one MSA representa- poses a problem. Although the student regarding changes to the Sexual Assault
ication to students and the University as tive would be symbolic at best. There body has their misgivings about MSA, it Prevention and Awareness Center, as well
a whole, his departure is leaving most should be a significant student role in is the most legitimate body of represen- as the controversy caused by frosty rela-
students unaffected and unconcerned. the selection process. Multiple students, tation for the students and therefore tions between University President Mary
Considering the importance of Willis's MSA representatives as well as out- MSA, not the University, should be Sue Coleman and activist group Student
former position, this apathy is troubling; siders, should be given seats on the charged with the task of selecting the Voices in Action, this increased participa-
The search for his successor is an committee that the University adminis- student members who will participate in tion will hopefully ameliorate tensions
opportunity for students to get more tration will inevitably form to recruit the search for a new Dean. The pool of between students and administrators. This
involved with the administration, and it Willis's replacement. students should not be reserved to only is a unique chance for students to bridge
should not be overlooked. This need for a diverse group of stu- assembly members, but include student the schism by actively participating in the
Since the Dean of Students clearly dent participants cannot be understated. leaders across numerous groups and dis- selection of an administration official.
deals with issues of distinct salience for Because the Dean is responsible for ciplines. The best choices will be dedi- The increase in student input would be
students, it is merely logical that some dealing with a wide range of student cated students hoping to enhance the beneficial to both the University and the
students participate in the selection issues, a wide range of students should University's relationship with students student body by not only creating a legit-
process. Michigan Student Assembly be allowed to evaluate a candidate's fit- instead of ones looking for power, pres- imate administration but also enabling
President Jason Mironov understood ness. The power given to the student tige or a chance to pad their resumes. more effective University policies.


A Pall-ution problem
Corporation should be held responsible for its waste

Crisis at the Collegian
Freedom of the press in peril at UMass Amherst


ast week, in a lawsuit filed against
Pall Life Sciences, a subsidiary of
the New York based Pall
Corporation, the City of Ann Arbor is
seeking financial restitution for damage
the company caused to a major local
groundwater well. According to the law-
suit, between the mid-1960s through the
1980s, the Life Sciences group contam-
inated the well with 1,4 dioxane, a pos-
sible human carcinogen and industrial
solvent used in the manufacturing of
medical filters. Consequently, over 18
million square feet of the dioxane cont-
aminant is spreading under Ann Arbor's
Veterans Memorial Park. While there is
little threat of the chemical spreading
into the drinking water supply, the city
is still demanding that the damaged well
be replaced. The lawsuit asks that Pall
Life Sciences pay not only for the costs
associated with finding a different
water source, but also for a complete
assessment and treatment of the
decades-old underground pollution
Pall Life Sciences has claimed that it
has already performed extensive clean-
up operations in the area, citing the
cleaning of two billion gallons of
ground water done in conjunction with
the state Department of Environmental
Quality. However, while Pall's coopera-
tion with the department is commend-
able, it is simply not enough. Even
though Pall cleaned billions of gallons
of water, they merely have scratched the
surface of their mess. The city is correct
in its assertion that Pall should either
finish the job, or pay for someone else
to do it for them.
The efforts of the city to actively

pursue corporate polluters should be
applauded; by actively taking action
against companies that demonstrate lit-
tle regard for the environment, Ann
Arbor is attempting to instill a sense of
social and corporate responsibility
within the business community.
Furthermore, a tough stance against
polluters shows that Ann Arbor will
enthusiastically and vigilantly protect
its reputation as a "green city," an atti-
tude that will hopefully keep the city
healthy and pollution in check for years
to come.
In the larger scheme, Ann Arbor is set-
ting an example for other municipal gov-
ernments by taking a more proactive role
in controlling local polluters. Reliance on
federal bureaucracies such as the
Environmental Protection Agency to
enforce environmental standards often
results in a slow, drawn-out process with
no guarantee of progress. Only at the local
government level does there exist the
focus and dedication necessary to address
local environmental issues; large govern-
ment agencies are simply too impersonal
and disconnected to tackle problems con-
fined to small areas.
If the Bush administration continues
to cut the operating budgets of regulato-
ry agencies such as the Environmental
Protection Agency, there will undoubt-
edly be an increased reliance on munic-
ipalities to solve environmental prob-
lems. Local governments meet this bur-
den by keeping their cities clean and
pollution under control. Using local
court systems, cities should ensure that
environmental standards are upheld, and
that corporations continue to operate
within the bounds of the law.

t is uncommon for a student writer to see
his name repeated outside his own paper
- syndicated by wire services, for
instance, or in a flattering e-mail from a
major publication. It confirms that the stu-
dent, though he writes for a college paper, is
a vital part of a much larger network of
media, and that in the exciting times of inter-
net connectivity, all writers are on an equal
footing. In this age, the college paper colum-
nist can have as much influence as a writer
for The New York Times.
But a writer can also rub these net-
works the wrong way, setting off cen-
sure from outlets across the country.
This happened to Massachusetts Daily
Collegian writer Rene Gonzalez, who
wrote a column that deflated the heroic
coverage of NFL player and American
soldier Pat Tillman, who died in mili-
tary service. In a precise but inflamma-
tory manner, Gonzalez deconstructed
what he called the "knee-jerk" praise
for Tillman and offered a competing
perspective: Tillman was not a hero, but
rather an example of how Americans
conflate sports greats with military
heroes, turning citizens into "the cheer-
leaders of the home team" instead of
critical thinkers.
The response was swift and severe.
National cable news channels picked up
the story, local readers flooded the
Collegian with angry e-mails, the
school's Student Government
Association nearly demanded a refund
of more than $10,000 allocated to the
paper and the SGA Senate approved a
motion that condemned Gonzalez's
views. The President of UMass
Amherst condemned the column, call-
ing it a "disgusting, arrogant and intel-

lectually immature attack on a human
being who died in service to his coun-
try." Even the Massachusetts Senate
approved a resolution of condemnation,
with one member, Sen. Robert Hedlund
(R-Weymouth), calling Gonzalez a
Though some of the retorts have car-
ried little institutional weight, others have
threatened the paper's ability to operate
freely. Efforts to impose economic punish-
ment are reminiscent of last year's rehear-
ing of Hosty v. Carter by the U.S. 7th
Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the
administration of Governors State
University sought to give school officials
editorial control of the student newspaper.
They based their argument on Hazelwood
School District v. Kuhlmeier, which limits
First Amendment protections for high
school students by establishing prior
review for administrators.
Both the UMass Amherst administra-
tion and SGA threaten to make their
college paper more like a high school
publication, using all available institu-
tional pressures to condemn controver-
sial opinions deemed dangerous to the
University's reputation and financial
viability. They have explicitly demand-
ed editorial control, but their excessive
pressure on Gonzalez serves as a clear
threat to future students who wish to
express political dissent.
The Constitutionally-guaranteed free-
doms of speech and the press do not exist to
protect uncontroversial opinions. Instead,
they ensure that even controversial and
inflammatory opinions can be presented
freely. Gonzalez has disagreed with an opin-
ion many Americans hold, but he is not
See AMHERST, Page 5


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