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May 31, 2005 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-05-31

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, May 31, 2005

tothedaily@michigandaily.com Editor in Chief


Editorial Page Editor

STUDENTS AT THE Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorals reflect the opinion of
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
SINCE 1890 necessarily refect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

hile U.S. politicians argue about
the morality of stem-cell research,
other nations like South Korea are
making significant progress in one of the fast-
est growing areas of biotechnology. But just
as a loss of U.S. dominance in the field could
result in the forfeiture of top researchers to
other countries, the possibility of a regional
brain drain arises within U.S. borders. Count-
ing itself as one of the five most restrictive
states with respect to stem-cell laws, Michigan
runs the risk of missing out on the opportu-
nity to participate in this revolutionary area of
life science. Because the state does not permit
research that would harm human embryos,
researchers in Michigan - including those
at the University - can only use stem-cell
lines acquired from adults, from the few fed-
erally approved lines or from other states.
Furthermore, those who undergo in-vitro fer-
tilization, while allowed to order the destruc-
tion of leftover embryos, are not allowed to
donate them for research. The University is
the state's largest stem-cell research center,

Free the stemcells
Michigan must retax stem-cell restrictions

but its work is constantly hampered by leg-
islative restrictions and financial constraints.
Without a change in state policy, the Uni-
versity will fall behind in stem-cell research,
further diminishing any hope of a statewide
economic recovery.
California voters have already approved a
$3-billion bond for stem-cell research, and
Stanford University has wasted no time in
recruiting Dr. Michael Clarke, one of the Uni-
versity's leading cell biologists. This pattern
will only continue without a change in pol-
icy. The University will find it hard enough
to retain its own researchers, much less to
work toward attracting additional scientists, if
Michigan does not take immediate action.
Current projects at the University have

made significant progress toward under-
standing and curing breast cancer and sickle
cell anemia. But the measly $2.2-million
grant funding its work is hardly sufficient to
take advantage of the full potential of stem-
cell research. With high-quality faculty and
researchers, the University is only waiting
on a loosening of federal and state laws in
order to establish its position as a leader in
stem-cell research. But so long as congres-
sional debate impedes action, the risk of los-
ing top researchers to other states will only
grow; unless state laws change soon, the
University will soon fall behind, and, in a
field as fast-paced as this one, it will have a
hard time recovering.
Many researchers and the dean of the

medical school have rightly taken firm
stances in support of loosening the state
laws. University President Mary Sue Cole-
man must do the same and use the influ-
ence of her office to garner public support
for reforming the state laws.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has taken a pecu-
liar stance on the issue, repeatedly emphasiz-
ing the importance of developing Michigan's
life sciences sector over the past few months
but then backing off from the more heated
issue of stem-cell research. Her current reluc-
tance to promote a change in the state laws
threatens not only the University but the
entire state as well. If she is serious about
reinventing Michigan as a center of life-sci-
ence industry, Granholm must show strong
leadership in order to effectively educate law-
makers and the public about the promise of
stem-cell research. Millions of lives could be
saved by the medical advances that stem cells
may one day bring, and with stakes as high
as these, Michigan cannot afford to let its
restrictive laws remain as they are.


Another blow
Funding plan errs in cutting Wayne State

A raw deal
Democrats lose in filibuster compromise

The Workforce Investment Needs pro-
posal, recently unveiled by Republicans
in the state House, seeks to change the
way funds are distributed to the state's 15 pub-
lic universities. Last week, this page criticized
the unfinished plan for using funding formulas
to prod university administrators into making
decisionsthatmaybe counterproductivetoaca-
demic excellence, and further details released
since then have revealed that both Wayne State
University and Northern Michigan University
would suffer 5-percent cuts under the propos-
al. Gov. Jennifer Granholm's office recently
expressed concern over this aspect of the plan,
noting that universities in conservative districts
fare better under the Republican plan than
those in liberal districts like Detroit. Whether
or not Republicans are playing politics with
university dollars, it would be a mistake to
reduce funding to Wayne State. Such a move
would damage one of Detroit's few bright
spots; the Legislature should recognize and
take into consideration Wayne State's impor-
tant and badly needed role in the city before
making such a decision.
While Detroit continues to falter under
the leadership of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick,
Wayne State is one of the few institutions
that economically, intellectually and socially
invigorates the city. As the only university
in Detroit, Wayne State provides many ser-
vices that otherwise would not be available.
The university's psychiatric centers, located
throughout Detroit, provide psychiatric ser-
vices to all patients, regardless of insurance
coverage. The Detroit Medical Center, affili-
ated directly with the university, runs several
health clinics and camps at various times of
the year that provide crucial health services
free of charge. Additionally, the law school
provides free legal representation to the poor.
These services are vital given Detroit's high
poverty rates, but they may be threatened if
Wayne State's funding is reduced.
The resources Wayne State brings to
Detroit are too many to list. The Wayne

State School of Medicine is the fourth-larg-
est medical school in the country and brings
in many talented students from top under-
graduate institutions. Put to use in the DMC,
its research benefits patients while furthering
the state's efforts to become a leader in life
sciences. Wayne State's College of Urban,
Labor and Metropolitan Affairs was estab-
lished in 1985 as part of an effort to carry out
the university's urban mission, to fulfill what
the university calls "a special commitment
to address the social, economic and political
issues facing urban areas generally - and
Detroit particularly." It is already in danger of
being dismantled due to funding constraints,
and further cuts will likely seal its fate.
By drawing young, college-educated peo-
ple to Detroit, Wayne State has the potential
to initiate population and economic growth
in the city. In recent years, the university has
focused on building its on-campus commu-
nity, and the effort has enabled its students to
see Detroit as a livable city and brought new
vitality to the area around its campus. These
students bring business to Detroit's stores and
traffic to its empty sidewalks; their presence
plays an important role in rebuilding a sense
of community within the city.
Wayne State's very direct benefit to Detroit
must be taken into account when determin-
ing state funding. The university's reach
extends beyond the city limits as well; with
90 percent of the university's alumni liv-
ing and working in Michigan, Wayne State
can help the state build a more highly edu-
cated workforce. Recent years have already
brought significant budget reductions to the
university, and it would be unwise to dispro-
portionately reduce its funding even more.
Slashing funds to Wayne State, as Republi-
cans propose, would harm not only Detroit
but the entire state. In order to rebound
economically, Michigan must not overlook
Detroit, and reducing its investment in one of
Detroit's most important institutions would
be an unfortunate step backward.

last-minute agreement was final-
ly reached in the Senate this past
week that ended, or at least post-
poned, the conflict over judicial filibus-
ters. While the agreement, negotiated by
a bipartisan group of 14 moderates, does
sidestep the so-called "nuclear option,"
it is a far cry from a true compromise.
The Republicans agreed not to elimi-
nate the judicial filibuster, provided the
Democrats consented to only filibuster
judicial nominees in "extraordinary cir-
cumstances" and specifically allowed
three ultra-conservative nominees to be
subjected to an up-or-down vote. Demo-
crats have sacrificed too much in what
has been touted as a balanced compro-
mise - in exchange for Republicans
leaving the filibuster intact, Democrats
agreed to virtually never use it.
And, more worryingly, by consenting
to three of the current nominees Demo-
crats set a frightening standard for the
level of extremism it would take for
them to filibuster a nominee.
Senate Democrats have opposed less
than 5 percent of Bush's nominees, sin-
gling out only those who have repeatedly
proven themselves unlikely to separate
their ultra-conservative personal beliefs
from their rulings. One judicial nomi-
nee, Texas Supreme Court justice Pris-
cilla Owen, has a reputation of favoring
corporations over consumers and indi-
vidual workers, attempting to rewrite
the law to reflect her own beliefs and
taking strong stances against gay rights.
In the aftermath of the agreement, the
Senate confirmed her last Thursday.
William Pryor, another highly contro-
versial nominee, has coupled his extreme
conservative ideology with his federal-
ist beliefs - he has strongly opposed
measures to protect battered women and
supported those who would criminalize
homosexual behavior. The infiltration of

these extremists into the federal judicial
system could be devastating to the judi-
cial check on the legislative and execu-
tive branches of government.
The vague wording that characterizes
the agreement is the most concerning
aspect of the deal; the negotiating sena-
tors offered no interpretation of what
constitutes the "extraordinary circum-
stances" necessary to permit a filibus-
ter. The nominees in question are so
extreme that it is difficult to imagine
any future candidates who could be any
more "extraordinary." Those involved
in the negotiations could not promise
that the nuclear option would be perma-
nently set aside; what Republicans view
to be an inappropriate interpretation of
the highly subjective agreement could
trigger a renege on the compromise. The
right to filibuster judicial nominees is
crucial to ensuring that judicial candi-
dates are not merely puppets of party
politics. The terms of the agreement will
do little to ensure any sort of bipartisan
collaboration, and the stakes will only
rise should a Supreme Court vacancy
open in the coming months.
The supposed unity promised by the
agreement has already proved to be
short-lived; the delay of John Bolton's
confirmation vote for U.N. ambassador
by wary Democrats is just the first of
many disputes which are quickly unrav-
eling any truce established through the
filibuster compromise. The end of the
judicial filibuster would have chipped
away at the Senate's ability to act as
a moderating body, but the agreement,
heavily favoring Republicans, is only
slightly better. Democrats have severe-
ly erred in letting what is in essence a
cloaked version of the "nuclear option,"
disguised in vague wording and the
appearance of equal compromise, slip
under the radar.

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