Monday, July 16, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other
signed articles and illustrations represent solely thesviews ofttheir authors.
Fraud problems reflect poorly on 'U'
TIWT ith the University's state funding in jeopardy
because of Lansing's amateur budget han-
dling, you would think that motorcycle parts
would be the last thing the University would be buying.
But because of fraudulent purchases on University-issued
credit cards, that's exactly what it spent thousands of dol-
lars on in the last two years. Before this type of frivolous
spending further jeopardizes the University's funding,
this credit-card program needs an overhaul.
The ABCs of family planning
When the University began
issuing credit cards, or P-Cards,
in 1995, the cards were designed
to ease the bureaucratic process
for employees to make work-
related purchases. But because
the program was poorly designed
and lacked effective oversight, it
also eased the process of cheat-
ing the University.
According to a University
internal audit earlier this year,
these questionable purchases
total more than $300,000. The
most recent example of the fraud
involves a maintenance supervi-
sor who purchased motorcycle
parts and electronics between
October 2004 and November
2006 with his P-Card. The pur-
chaseswasted morethan $50,000
before the employee was caught.
Among the many problems
withthe P-Card program, includ-
ing lax spending limits and an
abundance of unnecessary cards,
the largest problem is a flawed
system of oversight. Individual
P-Card accounts are supposed
to be monitored by "approvers."
Each approver is responsible for
monitoring between 50 and 100
employees, and they usually do
this by looking for purchases that
exceed $5,000. Because these
approvers are responsible for so
many people and the monitor-
ing system is not well defined, it's
easy to evade suspicion.
To the University's credit, it
has already taken seriously some
of the auditors' recommendations
and curtailed the spending lim-
its and the number of accounts.
But these fixes are still limited by
the University's failure to fix the
structural problems with the pro-
gram. If the University doesn't
act soon, this scandal can be more
than just an embarrassment.
While the University has been
adding up its credit-card bills,
Michigan State University recent-
ly imposed a 9.6 percent tuition
increase to compensate for the
state's funding cut. As the Univer-
sity prepares to announce tuition
rates, this budget cut is undoubt-
edly looming. What taxpayer
would blame the state for cutting
funds to a university that isn't
using its funding appropriately?
Admittedly, endingthe corrup-
tion within the P-Card program
won't prevent a tuition increase
in the face of the state's harsh
budget cuts. But if the University
doesn't take action, it might be
getting an even more undesirable
bill - this time from Lansing.
You won't see conservative
politicians and judges pick up
a sledgehammer and openly
smash women's rights to pieces.
Instead, they are using scalpels
to cut access to reproductive
rights away, one slice at a time.
The laws they create and uphold
make it increasingly difficult for
women to get birth control and
But it's not just our lawmakers
who are putting hurdles between
women and their rights to birth
control. A growing number of
pharmacists all over the country
are refusing to fill prescriptions
for emergency contraception,
based on personal ideologies and
without regard for a woman's
legal right to receive medication
in a timely manner. Many phar-
macists wrongly believe that EC
is an abortion pill. However, EC
consists of two birth control pills
that simply prevent pregnancy.
I am grateful that we have
legislators like Reps. Carolyn
Maloney (D-N.Y.), Chris Shays
(R-Conn.) and Sen. Frank Laut-
enberg (D-N.J.) who introduced
the Access to Birth Control Act.
The ABC act protects women's
access to birth control at phar-
macies and guarantees they will
receive prescriptions and over-
the-counter products in-store,
without discrimination or delay.
With a federal deficit that is
careening out of control, now is
also the time for our government
to spend money wisely. We know
that every dollar spent on family
planning saves $4 in social ser-
vices from an unintended preg-
nancy in the first year alone.
Although it makes economic
sense to open access to birth con-
trol, Congress is making it more
expensive for service providers
like Planned Parenthood to buy
birth control because of a tech-
nical flaw in the Deficit Reduc-
tion Act. If these organizations
can't buy birth control at reduced
prices, they can't provide it to
patients at affordable prices.
We know the only way to pre-
vent unintended pregnancies is
with access to affordable con-
traception and accurate, com-
prehensive sexual education.
So why has the current admin-
istration wasted six years and
millions of dollars promoting
abstinence-only education, even
though a well-documented, fed-
erally funded study proves that it
is a colossal failure?
Now Congress is actually con-
sidering spending another $163
million on these dangerous edu-
cation programs. Thankfully,
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is
championing the fight to fund
comprehensive sexual education.
The result of these barriers
to birth control and the inac-
curate education programs is
not surprising. The Guttm-
acher Institute reported that
rates of unintended pregnancy
and abortion are on the rise
among low-income women. And
approximately 750,000 U.S.
teens become pregnant and four
million get a sexually transmit-
ted infection each year.
blocks that limit access to contra-
ception, and we can only do so by
mandating that Congress take
action on this issue. On behalf of
the 2.5 million women who rely
on Planned Parenthood for birth
control each year, we are ask-
ing our lawmakers to do some-
thing about the growing maze of
restrictions that women face just
to get their birth control.
We are urging Congress to do
the following, in keeping with
our Prevention First campaign:
* Increase funding for Title X,
America's Family Planning Pro-
. Expand low-income women's
access to birth control through
" Create equity in prescription
birth control coverage
. Address the laundry list of
barriers to birth control in this
We are asking for reproductive
justice for women. We are asking
for affordable birth control for
those who seek it. We are asking
to provide real educationto teens
and young adults who want to
know the whole truth about fam-
ily planning, not just a skewed
slice of it.
Lori Lamerand is the president
and CEO of the Planned Parenthood
Editorial Board Members: Mike Eber, Kellyn Jackson, Jennifer Sussex,
Kate Truesdell, Radhika Upadhyaya