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May 22, 2006 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-05-22

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 22, 2006
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4

'Luxury' or tradition?
Luxury boxes could make fans long for Halo

JEREMY DAVIDSON
Editor in Chief

IMRAN SYED
Editorial Page Editor

JEFFREY BLOOMER
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other
signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.
Editorial Board Members: Amanda Andrade, Emily Beam, Jared Goldberg, Theresa
Kennelly, Adam Soclof, Gavin Stern, Ben Taylor, Christopher Zbrozek
FROM THE DAILY
A gap in credibiity
New NSA revelations continue disturbing trend

ong a heralded symbol of the tradi-
tion,excellence and character that the
University itself stands for, Michigan
Stadium might be scarcely recognizable by
2010 if a plan approved by the University
Board of Regents last Friday goes forward.
To offer wealthy Wolverines the option of
luxury boxes or club seating, the Big House
will likely be dominated by two massive
structures - which may rise higher than
the current scoreboards - running the
full length of both sidelines. Besides divid-
ing fans who have long shared a common
experience at Michigan football games,
the renovation plan is detrimental to stu-
dents and the vast majority of season-ticket
holders who are unable to afford the most
exclusive seats. The regents will still need
to approve specific plans for the renovation;
they can still act to preserve the integrity
of Michigan's traditional bowl stadium and
safeguard the experience of all fans.
Critics of what Athletic Director BillMartin
likes to call "enclosed seating;' better known
as luxury boxes, have argued that dividing
fans by income will inevitably go against the
egalitarian values of this public institution.
That, admittedly, might not be a terribly com-
pelling argument to the average fan. But we're
willing to bet that the average fan enjoys hav-
ing a bleacher seat in the sun on a crisp Octo-
ber afternoon. The plans the regents approved
will make getting that seat more difficult.
According to plans obtained by The
Ann Arbor News, the proposal the regents
approved Friday would construct two struc-
tures rising 82 feet high along the sidelines
- leaving many fans literally in the shadow
of the wealthy. Though the plan would add
slightly to the stadium's overall seating capac-
ity, there will be 4,300 fewer bleacher seats.
That's not in the interest of students or of the
thousands of fans on a years-long waiting list
for tickets. It's hard to see how future seating
additions could possibly be accommodated
around gargantuan sideline structures.

To be fair, administrators - includ-
ing Martin - deserve praise for remain-
ing staunch in their opposition to allowing
advertising in Michigan Stadium. And the
luxury-box plan will include needed renova-
tions to add restrooms, concessions, seats for
disabled fans and other improvements.
But those same necessary upgrades were
included in a more modest proposal, favored
by Regent Larry Deitch. That plan, which
would not add luxury boxes, would have
made the stadium safer and more accessible
without drastically and permanently depart-
ing from tradition. And given the challenges
many other colleges with luxury boxes have
faced in selling all their suites,the rosy finan-
cial projections of millions in luxury box
revenue may not come to pass - especially
if University President Mary Sue Coleman
intends to stick by her commitment not to
allow alcohol in any part of Michigan Sta-
dium. All told, it's difficult to see why the
plan Deitch favored wasn't given the more
serious consideration it deserved.
Indeed, much about the decision last Fri-
day was questionable. The Athletic Depart-
ment only shared its plans with the Ann
Arbor News when faced with a Freedom of
Information Act request. More troublingly,
stadium renovations did not appear on the
agenda for Friday's regent meeting until
the day before - after the 9 a.m. deadline
for concerned citizens to register to speak
during the public comment section of the
regents meeting.
There has been an outpour of concern
over a historic departure from the tradi-
tion of the one structure that figures most
prominently in the memories of many
alumni. Between the secrecy over the plans
and the devious move to put luxury boxes
on the agenda at the last minute, the Uni-
versity appears determined to ignore public
concerns about the renovations. It would
do well to listen more closely as it finalizes
plans for the stadium.

A nation's belief in its core val-
ues, laws and character can
only be proven when it's put
to the test. As such, the revela-
tion that the National Security Agency
has been building a massive database of
domestic phone records suggests that our
nation no longer values its citizens' right
to privacy. Such a program is contrary
to any reasonable reading of the Fourth
Amendment. Worse, the decision to spy
on untold millions of innocent citizens
was made by an out-of-control national
security apparatus, with practically no
meaningful Congressional oversight. As
it stands, this program is destructive to
liberty and must be modified or ended.
We must not stand by as the Fourth
Amendment becomes a casualty of the
so-called war on terror.
The NSA's secret program, as detailed
in a recent USA Today story, has used the
records of three major telecommunica-
tions corporations in an attempt to, in the
words of one source, "create a database of
every call ever made" on American soil.
While two of the phone companies
named in the story - BellSouth and Veri-
zon have denied participation in the NSA
program - The New York Times and The
Washington Post have both independent-
ly confirmed the core of the USA Today
story: that the NSA has built an immense
database of domestic phone records.
The Fourth Amendment protects
Americans from unreasonable search and
seizure without a warrant on the belief
that a government able to investigate any
citizen without cause can easily stumble
down the path to tyranny. There seems,
on face, to be little reason why the gov-
ernment should have unwarranted access
to data of any citizen's phone calls. The
potential for abuse is too extreme.
Indeed, the USA Today story claims
that NSA officials said the phone
records it sought might be shared with
other agencies, ranging from the Fed-
eral Bureau of Investigation to the
Drug Enforcement Administration.
Two investigative reporters from ABC
News recently said that a federal offi-

cial informed them that their calls were
tracked and suggested they get new cell
phones, although it's unclear whether
this persecution of journalists is tied to
the NSA program or is simply an unre-
lated facet of the Bush administration's
assault on civil liberties.
But Sept. 11, the NSA's defenders will
argue, changed everything - and it
is true that the nation is engaged in an
ongoing debate over the proper balance
between liberty and security. It's too bad,
then, that Congress has been excluded
from this debate.
Until last Wednesday - the day before
confirmation hearings for Gen. Michael
Hayden, the former NSA head now nomi-
nated to run the Central Intelligence
Agency - most members of the Sen-
ate Intelligence Committee had not even
been briefed on the NSA program.
If the program is somehow legal, as the
Bush administration's misguided view of
the Fourth Amendment would make it out
to be, surely informing senators on the
Intelligence Committee wouldn't hurt?
The complete lack of Congressional over-
sight for this program not only further
weakens the system of checks and bal-
ances, but it invites public mistrust.
President Bush has tried to calm fears
about governmental spying, insisting on
the same day of the USA Today report
that the government does not listen to
domestic phone calls without court
approval. But remember that in 2004,
Bush said in a town hall meeting address-
ing the Patriot Act, "A wiretap requires
a court order. Nothing has changed, by
the way. When we're talking about chas-
ing down terrorists, we're talking about
getting a court order before we do so."
That was a lie, as reports last December
about warrantless NSA wiretaps of the
international phone calls of American
citizens proved.
Without effective Congressional over-
sight, there's little reason to believe that
the administration is currently telling the
whole truth about the extent of its spying
on American citizens.
What else do we not know?

'You can do this'
Bikes a small but important step in energy solution

Detroit may have given birth to the
automobile, but with the recent
jump in gas prices (not to mention
the city's ever-persistent ranking among the
nation's fattest), it's clear that her beloved
child has reached a turbulent patch of road.
With small hope for dropping gas prices,
and, given current national energy policies,
even smaller hope for a long-term sustain-
able energy solution, a handful of devoted
commuters have offered up a different
answer: the bicycle. Last Friday, Detroit cel-
ebrated its first annual Bike to Work Day, in
which casual bike riders were encouraged
to cycle their way to work in a city-wide
display. Organizers hope one day of day
peddling might inspire fellow Detroiters to
ditch their cars in favor of the more energy-
and cardio-friendly bicycle more often.
The ingenious endeavor seeks to get
people thinking smart not only about the
nation's ever-worsening energy crisis, but
also about their own wallets and waistlines.
It comes in the middle of a similar month-
long program for the city of Ann Arbor

called Curb Your Car Month, which aims
to raise awareness of alternative means of
transportation around the city.
These campaigns are intended not to
convert the entire populace to granola-
chomping hippies, condoning only the most
stringent of eco-friendly technologies, but
simply as the presentation of a logical alter-
native. For many in the city, the morning
commute of a few traffic-clogged miles in
the sunny month of May is merely self-con-
demnation to a costly and unnecessary has-
sle. Yet this practice endures, in large part,
because reliance on the personal automo-
bile is so strongly ingrained into the psyche
of America, especially in and around the
motor city, thanks to the continued absence
of a viable public transportation system.
By championing a new paradigm, Bike to
Work Day and Curb Your Car Month pro-
pose a small change. Instead of driving that
two miles to work, bike it. Not only will you
feel energized and refreshed, but you'll also
get to enjoy the beautiful weather. Do
See BIKES, Page 5

,I

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