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May 31, 2005 - Image 26

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-05-31

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14 - The Michigan Daily - Orientation Edition 2005

4

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

DONN M. FRESARD
Editorial Page Editor

~uw u EDITED AND MANAGED BY
" EtCSTDUTENTSATATHE 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.

Making a deal with the state gov-
ernment should not require
leap of faith. When the state
threatened to dramatically slash fund-
ing for the University if it raised tuition
for the 2004-2005 academic year at a
pace faster than the rate of inflation, the
University backed down with the under-
standing that it would have $20 million
of previously cut state funding restored.
However, an unrelenting budget crisis has
made it increasingly likely that the state
will renege on its end of the bargain. Last
month, the University announced that it
was considering a tuition increase for the
current semester, but because the state
has yet to officially go back on its fund-
ing pledge, the University has not acted.
With less than a week until tuition is due,
no mid-year increase is possible; the state
will cut the University's funding, but
there will be no corresponding tuition
adjustment to offset the loss. Academic
standards will suffer in the short run,
and students' pocketbooks will suffer in
the long run as the University - with no
incentive to keep tuition low - ratchets

Breaking its word
State funding key to affordable education

up the cost of attendance.
This funding debacle is more than
just another example of the state's fis-
cal irresponsibility. The possibility of
effective future partnerships between the
University - a public institution - and
the state is lost. By consistently cutting
funding for higher education and break-
ing pledges, the state has turned its back
on higher public education in Michigan.
Lansing's almost certain decision to
cut funding for higher education is sure
to negatively impact the University.
The "Michigan Difference" campaign,
though effective in raising funds for spe-
cific endeavors at the University, does
not compensate for the loss of funding
at the state level. Despite the good for-
tune of having the world's largest alumni
foundation, the University remains a

public university where state funds are
essential.
Former University President James Bur-
rill Angell once said the University offers
"an uncommon education for the common
man." But as the University becomes more
reliant on private funding - and thus more
expensive - so will go the hope of offer-
ing an affordable education. The Univer-
sity is already one of the most expensive
state schools in the nation - in-state stu-
dents pay almost $20,000 per year (includ-
ing housing), while out-of-state students
shell out nearly $40,000. The University's
attempts to provide its students with the
opportunity to attend a socioeconomically
and racially diverse school will be increas-
ingly meaningless when an exorbitant
tuition rate permits only wealthy students
to attend.

Whether Lansing knows it or not, pric-
ing students out of top-quality higher
education will have far-reaching effects
on the economic prognosis for the state
of Michigan. As Gov. Jennifer Gran-
holm has argued, Michigan's long-term
economic plan should be to encourage
post-secondary education and build a
knowledgeable workforce that attracts
modern industry and commerce. Invest-
ing in public universities is vital if the
state is to attract higher-paying jobs out-
side the shrinking manufacturing sector.
It is also necessary to prevent the brain-
drain that is leaving the state devoid of
its most educated and capable citizens.
Higher education is a fundamental
element of the state's economic and
social well-being, and public universi-
ties enable all citizens - not just those
who are already wealthy - to become
productive, successful members of soci-
ety. As Lansing grapples with its budget
crisis, it has pushed public education to
the wayside and let the future of our state
hang precariously in the balance.
- Jan. 26, 2005

Stop Proposal 2
Voters should reject discriminatory measure

Racial diversity at risk
MCRI proposal threatens civil liberties

Achieving social change can be a
frustrating endeavor. Progress on
civil rights follows a familiar pat-
tern: two steps forward countered by one
step backward. All the momentum and
accomplishments that benefited black
Americans in the '60s stalled in the '70s
under the weight of President Nixon's
emphasis on "law and order." Change can
be uncomfortable and unsettling, and many
Americans will resist it. But the familiar
waltz of progress tempered by conservatism
reliably takes Americans to a more just, a
more decent status quo, and history does not
judge those who resist change as kindly as
those who seek it. That is why it is impor-
tant to vote against Proposal 2, which would
make civil unions and gay marriage uncon-
stitutional in the state of Michigan.
Since the summer of 2003, when the U.S.
Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas
that anti-sodomy laws are unconstitution-
al, gay rights has moved to the top of the
nation's political agenda. The national dis-
course that the opinion jump-started has
made the prospect of expanding gay rights
all the more probable, but it also created
a potent political issue. Unfortunately, a
number of national and state leaders have
sought to capitalize on the discomfort
much of the public feels by further politi-
cizing the issue to their advantage. And
because gay marriage is illegal nation-
wide, this has meant proposing constitu-
tional amendments that are unique in that
instead of granting rights and protection
to a community, they eliminate rights.
An amendment to the U.S. Constitution
failed in the Senate, and its state counter-
part failed in the Legislature. But a major-

ity vote of the public is sufficient to amend
the state constitution, and an uninformed
or temporarily moved majority could elim-
inate the rights of a minority. When a vocal
minority founded this nation, it worked
hard to establish a political system in which
the whims - however heartfelt and sincere
at the time - of the majority could not
dictate its countrymen's lives.
Those founders also wanted the nation's
religious institutions to be protected from
the state and, in turn, for there to be a
separation between those institutions and
the state. Proposal 2 is a direct challenge
to that mutually beneficial precedent. Reli-
gious doctrine cannot be transcribed into
the nation's constitutions.
In time, attitudes will change, and gay
rights will no longer be a controversial
political issue. Americans will recognize
that gay marriage is not a threat to hetero-
sexual marriage, and they will even come
to a place many conflicted gay Americans
have not yet reached themselves: accep-
tance. When that time comes, our chil-
dren and grandchildren will reflect on
how this generation reacted to the inevi-
table change we now see taking place in
our country.
They will see that some Americans
embraced the changes, while others accept-
ed and tolerated them despite some dis-
comfort. But those who passionately and
hatefully led the resistance to the liberation
of a downtrodden community, those who
chose to divide this country out of disdain
for that same community, will wish they
had been on the other side of this dispute.
We urge you to VOTE NO on Proposal 2.
- Oct. 29, 2004

nce again, diversity and social
justice are being challenged in
Michigan. The Michigan Civil
Rights Initiative has returned, and this time
is attempting to put a proposal to amend
the state constitution on the 2006 ballot.
The bill, very similar to the failed 2004
version, aims to ban what its organizers
call racial preferences in the state. MCRI
officials are predicting that the 317,757
signatures needed will all be collected by
mid-October, leaving plenty of time for the
proposal to be certified and placed on the
2006 ballot. This proposal is a dangerous
renewed assault on affirmative action at the
University and in the state.
In a pair of landmark decisions, the
U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that
using race as one of the factors for college
admission was constitutional. The MCRI
was launched by University of Califor-
nia regent Ward Connerly in response to
this decision as an effort to limit affirma-
tive action at the state level. The proposal
would have been on the 2004 ballot if
not for a state judge who invalided the
petitions on a technicality. The judge was
eventually overruled by a higher court,
but by then, MCRI leaders had lost their
momentum.
Unfortunately, even though MCRI
leaders have carefully vetted their pro-
posal to make sure it passes legal muster,
the language and intent of the initiative is
still misleading. Leaders have carefully
phrased the bill to ban "racial prefer-
ences," a loaded term that draws a much
more negative response than "affirmative
action," which is what they truly seek
to ban. Furthermore, even though MCRI
leaders are attempting to strip affirma-
tive action - a core component of the

civil rights movement - they have called
their movement a "civil rights initiative."
These manipulations of the truth create a
palatable proposal that will be likely to
achieve the ultimate goal of killing affir-
mative action within the state.
Affirmative action at the University has
been invaluable in establishing a diverse
student body. Diversity at an academic
institution is an integral part of the com-
plete educational experience. Affirmative
action provides benefits to all races, reli-
gions and groups - not just minorities
but all individuals exposed to diversity.
For this reason, the Supreme Court ruled
affirmative action was a legal method by
which to promote diversity - a compel-
ling state interest.
Additionally, the minorities who bene-
fit from affirmative action have been, and
still are, facing significant disadvantages.
Students from these groups are not given
full access to the technology, teachers
and resources that their counterparts
from the middle and upper classes have.
Affirmative action, instead of creating
artificial preferences, attempts to level
the playing field between those who have
and those who have less. Advocates of
the MCRI fail to recognize this distinc-
tion; they support a proposal that would
recreate an uneven playing field.
The return of the MCRI signals another
serious threat to diversity at the University
and within the state as a whole. Support-
ers of the MCRI have carefully created a
ballot initiative that may be both legally
clean and enticing to state voters. Propo-
nents of affirmative action must mobilize
their resources to ensure that this danger-
ous proposal is not allowed to succeed.
- Sept. 28, 2004

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