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June 30, 2008 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-06-30

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41

Monday, June 30, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

the IWICbigan Dailu
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan since
1890.
? 420 Maynard St.
eAnn Abor, MI 48109
an;,nrtothedaily@umich.edu

Loaded words
Supreme Court opens new debate on guns

EMMARIE HUETTEMAN
EDITOR IN CHIEF

GARY GRACA
MANAGING EDITOR

KATE TRUESDELL
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily'seditorial board. Allsother signed articles and illustrations
represent solely the views of their authors.
Rat isin through the roof
Latest tuition increase of questionable necessity
t's that time of the year again, the time when students receive their annual gift
from the Board of Regents: a tuition hike. Given inflation, it's an unfortunate real-
ity that tuition may need to be raised over time. But what is uncertain is if the rate
of increase over the past few years has been justified. Unfortunately, the way in which
this hike was approved didn't allow this question to be raised. The lack of transparency
from the University and the arbitrariness of the numbers justifying this spike in cost
leave several questions to be answered.

It took 217 years, but the U.S.
Supreme Court finally made a
decision Thursday about what
the ambiguous nightmare we
call the Second Amendment
means. Yes, owning a gun is an
individual right. But, no, your
right to pack heat isn't abso-
lute, especially if you want to
own an Uzi. The wording of the
Second Amendment may be a
jumbled mess, but the Supreme
Court's decision should silence
the fringe voices in this debate
and motivate our country to
address the prevalence of gun
violence in our country and on
our campuses.
At the heart of the court's 5-
4 decision last week was the
question of what the Founding
Fathers meant when they wrote
that "A well regulated Militia,
being necessary to the security
of a free State, the right of the
people to keep and bear Arms,
shall not be infringed."
One hundred and fifty-four
pages later, the court's five con-
servatives adamantly ruled that
the amendment was meant to
protect each person's individual
right to own a gun with some
to-be-determined qualifica-
tions. The court's four liberals
adamantly ruled that those five
guys pulled their conclusion out
of thin air. Even for a divided
court, the opinions were sur-

prising in their inability to con-
cede hardly any points to the
other side. Each side had dug its
heels in and wasn't budging.
Not surprisingly, the court's
polarization mirrored the divide
that has crippled our ability
to control gun violence in our
country. Roughly 30,000 Amer-
icans die each year because of
guns, and dozens die in trage-
dies across the country at places
like Virginia Tech and North-
ern Illinois University. But still,
Americans haven't been able
to agree that reasonable regu-
lations like the federal ban on
assault weapons are legal.
The court may have incor-
rectly stretched the Second
Amendment's meaning Thurs-
day, but it also opened up an
opportunity. Undoubtedly,
gun-control laws across the
country will be challenged in
the wake of this decision. But
now, the courts can clarify that
reasonable gun restrictions
that keep guns off the black
market, require background
checks for gun ownership and
require gun registration are
legal and necessary.
By deciding the most con-
tentious point in the debate,
the court gave us a free pass to
move on to points of agreement.
It's only been 217 years in the
making.

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First of all, the hike was cal-
culated based on an assumed
2-percent increase in state
funding for the University. But
at the time, the increase being
debated in the state's legislature
was between 2.8 percent and 3
percent. By underestimating
state aid in its model, the Uni-
versity stood to overestimate
the amount tuition really need-
ed to be raised. This wouldn't
be so concerning if, like many
universities did last year, unex-
pected state funding was paid
back to students through reim-
bursements. But unfortunately,
the University wasn't among the
ranks of schools that did that.
It's also questionable how
necessary some of the costs the
University has used to justify
this raise are. According to the
University, the need for higher
tuition is derived from major
expense increases like rising
energy prices, improving fac-
ulty pay, hiring 100 new junior
faculty members and updat-
ing technology. These are all
legitimate costs for a premier
research institution. But it's
questionable if things like hir-
ing new faculty at the expense
of students should be a priority

when price indexes are soaring
across the board and it's never
been more expensive to earn a
college degree.
And that's important to con-
sider. At this point, it's clich6
to say that knowledge is power.
But it's still true - a knowledge-
based economy is essential to
addressing the economic woes
of both the state and the nation.
That means that now more than
ever it's necessary to prioritize
expenses and trim superfluous
spending, raisingtuition as alast
resort. Because the most impor-
tant priority should always be
the student.
There must be a balance
between a desire to expand and
improve the University and bur-
deningstudents with more debts
than they can bear. Next year,
in-state students will be pay-
ing 5.6 percent more than last
year. That may not sound so bad
- until you consider that over
four years, tuition has increased
a whopping 34.6 percent. That
kind of increase is not only
exponentially problematic in
the context of the state's flailing
economy, but it's also the kind
of increase for which students
can't reasonably prepare.

The Regents contendthatthey
are taking measures to soften
the blow of this hike by increas-
ing financial aid by 10.8 percent.
But put in real monetary terms,
that increase equates to only
$8.5 million - a very small drop
in the bucket. In reality, this
increase does little to fix a much
broader problem.
But it isn't just the big price
tag on a University education
that's alarming - the way it was
approved is upsetting as well.
The hike was approved at the
Regents meeting two weeks
ago without a discussion. That's
unacceptable; considering the
effect this decision will have on
students, open debate was abso-
lutely necessary.
Discussion could have
allowed the Regents to address
these issues and explain to the
students why raising tuition was
necessary and what they plan
on doing to minimize further
increases in the future. A press
release shouldn't replace a real
dialogue about these issues, but
that's exactly what happened.
And what that means is that
instead of getting answers to
these questions, students have
been left in the dark.

4

ARIELA STEIF
E-MAIL STEIF AT ASTEIF@UMICH.EDU
I -
GHANE
7- \ -
S-,,,-.. \ I s -

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