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May 23, 2005 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-05-23

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 23, 2005

I

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109 STEPHANIE WRIGHT
tothedaily@michigandaily.com Editor in Chief

DONN M. FRESARD
Editorial Page Editor

~ ~ ~A ure EDITED AND MANAGED BY
ESTUDENTDAT 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
SINCE 1890 necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Republicans in the state House recently
introduced a proposal, named Work-
force Investment Needs, that would
reform the way the state distributes funding
for its 15 public universities. The new system
would rely on formulas - based on factors
such as enrollment, number and types of
degrees granted and research - to deter-
mine each university's share of the total
higher education budget. The sponsors of
the proposal, including House Speaker Craig
DeRoche (R-Novi), say the objective criteria
will encourage public universities to produce
more skilled workers by rewarding schools
for increasing graduation rates and award-
ing more science and engineering degrees.
While it is encouraging to see Republican
legislators acknowledging the central role
of public universities in Michigan's transi-
tion from a manufacturing to an information
economy, this proposal is a misguided one. If
House Republicans want to improve Michi-
gan's economic future, they should push for
significant increases to the state's investment
in all of its public universities.
The formulas are not yet finalized, and leg-
islators are also considering a provision that
would award more money for enrolling in-
state students than out-of-state students. This
criterion, which would affect the University of
Michigan far more than any of the state's other
public universities, is ill-advised; it would be

A dangerous equation
Proposed budget formula would hurt universities

an attempt to pressure the University to enroll
fewer out-of-state students, which would ulti-
mately drive down academic quality. Still, it is
unlikely that the University's funding would
suffer under the new criteria - the Univer-
sity's enrollment is the second-largest in the
state, its graduation rate is the state's best, and
it does more research than any other public
school in the nation.
Rather than investing more money in
higher education, House Republicans seem
to believe they can use formulas as incen-
tives to squeeze greater economic results out
of the state's universities after slashing their
funding by 12 percent over the past three
years. These incentives, however, are the
wrong approach to the state's problem with
university funding. Under the new system,
university administrators would make deci-
sions based on what would bring in more
state dollars rather than what would maxi-
mize their schools' academic excellence.
Because legislators will likely tweak the for-
mulas so that few universities will see drastic
changes in their funding, the new system's long-

term impact would probably be felt most heav-
ily in humanities and social science programs,
which universities would be encouraged to cut
in favor of engineering and hard sciences. This
would be a grave mistake. The University's
liberal arts programs are already receiving
much of the burden of the state's appropria-
tions cuts - their humanities and social sci-
ence departments bring in almost no revenue
in the form of research grants, unlike graduate
programs in hard sciences and engineering.
The University's liberal arts departments, as
well as those at several other state universi-
ties, cannot lose funding without sacrificing
the quality of education. Furthermore, a single
set of criteria cannot account for the unique
role each university plays in the state's higher
education system. It would be counterproduc-
tive to pressure schools like Eastern Michigan
University, which is renowned for its excellent
College of Education, to beef up their hard sci-
ence departments.
Another fundamental flaw in the WIN plan is
that its incentives are aimed in the wrong direc-
tion. If House Republicans want to increase the

number of students receiving engineering and
applied science degrees, they should provide
incentives and encouragement - perhaps in the
form of targeted scholarships and public service
announcements - to students, not university
administrators. Students should be motivated
to pursue hard sciences because they truly want
to, not because liberal arts programs at their
universities are under-funded or sub-par.
To be sure, the current system of distribut-
ing funds is not perfect. Legislators determine
each university's slice of the pie based on the
previous year's funding and what they deter-
mine to be the universities' relative needs - a
process that could be called either "holistic" or
"arbitrary," depending on one's point of view.
In effect, the schools that win out are those
that can afford the best lobbying and whose
graduates sit on the subcommittee making the
decisions. And, inevitably, some universities
get unjustly shortchanged.
Still, the WIN proposal is badly flawed and
oversteps the Legislature's boundaries; attempt-
ing to exert more control over all of the state's
public universities using one set of criteria
will only lead to poor academic decisions by
money-starved university administrators. If the
Legislature wants greater performance out of
the state's universities - a necessary goal, if
Michigan is to avert economic disaster - it has
no other choice but to dramatically increase its
investment in all 15 state universities.

I

I

He cut the grass ...
Time's up for Detroit mayor Kilpatrick
A t arally last Tuesday, Detroit Mayor in Detroit's parks; yes, he resurfaced 350 miles
Kwame Kilpatrick, his hand some- of the city's roads; and yes, he can be forgiven
what fatigued from signing a check somewhat for being handed a city besieged by
to the city for $9,000 in questionable charges, poverty and plagued by falling revenues and a
took a deep breath and announced his candi- bloated, bureaucratic city government. But this
dacy for reelection. His merits are few, and election is about more than accomplishments
his crookedness is no secret; it is an offen- and excuses - it is about change. Kilpatrick
sive account of arrogance and abuse of the was listed among the country's worst mayors
system. A renewal of his tenure in office in Time magazine; his reelection can only feed
would be severely detrimental to Detroit: the growing nationwide perception that Detroit
its image, its financial and political well- is stagnant and a "lost cause."
being and its future. The mayor has complained about state and
The rally itself, like Kilpatrick's tenure federal budget cuts while simultaneously main-
as mayor, was simultaneously entertaining, taining a gratuitous 21-man security detail and
bewildering and embarassing. The mayor's spending more than $200,000 of the city's
father, Bernard Kilpatrick, spoke at the event money on expensive meals and lavish hotel
and equated the rumors about his son's wild rooms.. Depending on whether this is viewed as
parties on city property to the rumors that a very serious joke or a very funny, if damning,
galvanized Germany into Nazism, remarking, fact, it exemplifies the absurdity of his reelec-
"One lie! And before it was all over, 6 million tion campaign. Kilpatrick's candidacy does not
(Jews) died." promise anything other than more of the same.
Some have fared quite well under Kilpat- The same, in this case, is a gross ineptitude, an
rick's benevolent hand. A peculiar situation abuse of power that needs to be tried and con-
was unearthed last October. by the Detroit victed in the court of democracy.
Free Press: Kilpatrick's sister, mother and The mayor Detroit needs can revitalize the
close family friend were taking staggering sal- city; he needs plans for reform and the drive
aries that ate up more than half of donations to necessary to carry them out. He must respect
their recently established charity, Next Vision the city's residents by resisting the temptation to
Foundation. Companies like Genesis Energy define his tenure by the parties he throws and
Solutions found that karma really did come full the favors he doles out. As voters sort through
circle in the Kilpatrick world - no sooner did the several emerging candidates, they cannot
they aid the foundation in its mission to pad the afford to settle for a status quo defined by a man
Kilpatricks' pocketbooks than they received a who needs his parents to defend his compulsive
remarkably favorable contract with the city. spending habits. Detroit does not deserve and
Kilpatrick is expected to tout his record should not tolerate four more years of Kilpat-
during the coming months, which, although rick. His reign has been a comedy of errors;
dimmed by allegations and controversy, is not tragedy only comes if the residents of Detroit
unworthy of mention. Yes, he had the grass cut do not learn from their mistake.

Misplaced blame
Blame U.S. military, not Newsweek, for riots

I

Despite the retraction of Newsweek's
report that U.S. soldiers threw a copy
of the Quran down the toilet at the
U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay,
debate is still raging. The mistaken article
triggered violent anti-American demonstra-
tions in both Afghanistan and Pakistan,
resulting in at least 15 deaths. Despite what
the Bush administration might like to believe,
what gets buried in the pages of Newsweek
is not so highly regarded that it would be
the sole inspiration for violent riots. These
tragic events are not solely Newsweek's fault,
but rather are the culmination of numerous
human rights abuses and unwise foreign pol-
icy decisions by the United States that have
tarnished its reputation abroad.
Given its source, Newsweek did not nec-
essarily err in printing the story. The mag-
azine's source, a high-ranking Pentagon
official, claimed at the time that the Quran
incident would be included in a soon-to-be-
released official military report. And, while
the incident may not be included in the forth-
coming report, there is little reason to believe
it did not happen. In light of the abuses at
the Abu Ghraib prison and numerous other
reports of human rights violations, the pos-
sibility of American interrogators flushing
the Quran down the toilet does not seem
unlikely. Newsweek's report unfortunately
fits into a disturbing pattern of abuse against
imprisoned detainees.
In a New York Times report published
May 1, a former American interrogator at
Guantanamo Bay gave an account of Ameri-
can guards tossing copies of the Quran into
a pile and stepping on them repeatedly. Dis-

turbing reports of religious abuse have been
prevalent, ranging from forced shaving of
beards to more extreme accounts of detainees
being smeared with fake menstrual blood.
Coupled with evidence of recurrent physical
and emotional abuse, including documented
cases of detainees dying from beatings at the
hands of their American interrogators, a pic-
ture emerges of an environment so lacking in
respect for prisoners that Newsweek's report
seems almost mundane
Newsweek should not be discredited for
printing the story, nor should this event cause
other journalists to back off from investigat-
ing U.S. detainee abuse. The media must
not be deterred from uncovering stories that
may portray the U.S. military in a negative
light; this is a crucial time for the press to
be aggressive in exposing U.S. human rights
violations. In addition, the use of anonymous
sources is often crucial in discovering the
truth behind military abuses, and journalists
must continue to use these sources responsi-
bly despite the negative reputation they have
recently garnered.
Newsweek is not at fault for the United
States's deteriorating image on the interna-
tional stage. Its report, while now believed
to be inaccurate, is in line with many other
accounts of abuse by U.S. interrogators at
Guantanamo Bay and other military pris-
ons. The real issue here has been clouded.
It has been confirmed that many other
instances of religious and physical abuse
have in fact occurred in American military
prisons, and this is the matter the White
House should be so vigorously attacking
- not the media.

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