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July 14, 2008 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-07-14

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Monday, July 14, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


A pricey process,

Smoking them out

Chef Boyardee is fantas-
tic - the first few times
you eat it. Then after
having it for
five consecu-
tive days, it
becomes bear-
able. At this
point, I'm at
the "I-become-
see-a-pudgy- TOM
Italian-chef" MICHNIACKI
Why am I
forced to eat nothing but unhealthy
pseudo-spaghetti? Because I'm
broke. Why am I broke? Because
I'm applying to medical school.
It's well-known that medical
school tuition is insanely expen-
sive, but what a lot of people don't
realize is that just applying is also
ridiculously pricey. To have the
pleasure of taking the MCAT, I had
to dish out $200. Luckily I only had
to take it once, but lots of applicants
have to take it two or three times.
Now let's move on to the prima-
ry application for medical school.
It requires your GPA, MCAT score,
extracurricular activities and per-
sonal statement. It also lets you list
the schools you're interested in.
I'm sending out applications to 17
colleges. That might sound like a
lot, but amazingly that's about the
average number ofschoolstowhich
pre-med kids apply. Adding up all
of the costs, just to electronically
send out my primary application
cost me $640. For me, that repre-
sents almost two months' rent.'
After a school receives your pri-
maryapplication,they'll sendyou a
secondary application. The-fees for
these range from $25 to more than
$100. Multiply that figure by 17,
and I already know it's going to set
me back a pretty penny, more than
$1,000 for sure.
Because of my financial history
and student loans, I don't have
money to spare. So I decided to try
and then pay it off over the next few
months. But because of the loans I
have, I am having trouble getting a
card. That doesn't leave me with-a
whole lot of options.
If a medical school likes your
credentials, they'll ask you to visit
their campus for an interview.
Traveling around the country isn't
cheap either, obviously. Now you
know why I'm eating ravioli with
Play-Doh-flavored cheese.
Med schools do offer help to
those who come from financial-
ly-burdened families. If you are
close enough to the government's

standards for poverty, you are eli-
gible for the Fee Assistance Pro-
gram. With this, you'll get a small
reprieve from some of the fees
associated with applying.
Unfortunately, FAP makes you
include your family's combined
income, even though that money
may not go toward your education.
You also have to state the amount
of non-taxable income - things
like financial aid, for example
- you receive. So even though my
family's money doesn't help me
now, it works against me in getting
money for applications. For my
background, these figures had to
equate to less than about $50,000
for me to get financial help. Appar-
ently, my family is broke, but not
quite broke enough.
This experience has led me to
the conclusion that it's only finan-
cially feasible to apply to medical
schools if you come from a very
poor or very rich family. Those
who come from lower-middle-
class families are seemingly left
out in the cold.
How med school
forces me to eat
Chef Boyardee.
I'm not entirely sure who is at
fault for the astronomical costs
of applying to medical school, but
it must become affordable to all.
The individuals who are having a
difficult time with the costs of the
application process already have
overcome so much and should not
be burdened with more worries. A
financially fair route to a medical
degree means that individuals who
are very qualified to be great doc-
tors aren't forced to change their
dream ofpracticingmedicine.
To make the process of apply-
ing more affordable, the income
level that makes one eligible for
FAP should be raised to include
those with a lower-middle-class-
standing. A reduction of the fees
associated with the secondary
application should also be consid-
ered. More than $100 to electroni-
cally submit an application seems
excessive to me. But keep in mind,
so does spending 25 cents for a
package of Ramen noodles.
Tom Michniacki can be
reached at tmichyumich.edu.

am not a smoker. I don't real-
ly know what conditions lead
someone to pick up the habit,
especially with
ing campaigns
their message
at every level
of American
But you ROBERT
don't have to SOAVE
be a smoker to
be troubled by
the language of a study released
last week by the Center for Dis-
ease Control and Prevention
about the current state of second-
hand smoke in our country. The_
study announced some seemingly
optimistic statistics: The percent-
age of non-smokers with traces
of second-hand smoke in their
blood has fallen dramatically.
Studies conducted in the late 80's
and early 90's showed that 86 per-
cent of non-smokers were inhal-
ing second-hand smoke, whereas
more recent studies from 1999
through 2004 revealed that that
figure was then only 46 percent.
While these are positive
results, the methods by which
they were achieved are regretta-
ble. The study says that the reason
for the drop is the large number
of restrictive laws that prohibit
smoking in restaurants, bars and
the workplace. It is this message
calling for more and more bur-
densome restrictions that has
made American society a hostile
place for smokers. Our own state
of Michigan has - recently suc-
cumbed to this message by taking
up legislation to ban smoking in
bars and restaurants.
The American smoker is

regarded as somewhat of a serial
killer, and the Center for Disease
Control and Prevention is just one
of many voices contributing to
this image. Smokers are people
with an addiction, and though
the consequences associated with
that addiction - heart disease
and lung cancer - are dangerous,
smokers do not deserve to be per-
secuted. We are passing law after
law to keep them out of our lives,
forcing them to smoke at home.
Unsurprisingly, these dis-
criminatory laws are having a
less celebrated effect: The study's
least positive statistic regarding
second-hand smoke was that chil-
dren's exposure is still above 60
percent, probably because smok-
ers now have fewer and fewer
places to smoke and their own
homes are one of their last refug-
es. No one wants to make it ille-
gal to smoke entirely - a belief in
freedom and personal choice does
not permit that conclusion. But if
we truly want to give people the
right to choose to be smokers, we
have to offer them a compromise.
The pattern of increasingly
restrictive laws against smokers
must end. Fortunately, leaving
the decision to the private owner
will automatically accomplish the
much-needed compromise. Res-
taurants and bars with customer
bases consisting predominantly
of smokers will permit indoor
smoking, and other customers
will have to accept the dangers if
they still choose tofrequent these
Other business owners will see
merit in prohibiting smoking in
order to satisfy a predominantly
non-smoking clientele. This com-
promise will give non-smokers
the choice to inhabit places that

are smoke-free, while still pro-
viding the smoker somewhere to
go outside of the home.
It should be left up to individ-
ual business owners to determine
the extent to which smoking is
permitted in an establishment,
rather than having that choice
predetermined by governing bod-
ies that are biased against smok-
ers. The Michigan legislature is
one such governing body, voting
last month to ban smoking in res-
taurants and bars.
Smoking may be
bad, but banning
it is worse.
At least the House of Represen-
tatives's version of the bill main-
tained exemptions for workplaces
that have a specific smokingfocus,
such as cigar bars. Let us hope
that this is the version that tri-
umphs, or else Michigan smokers
will have suffered a serious defeat
at the hands of unnecessary poli-
cies. Just letting the owner decide
will result in a fairer and more
accommodating policy.
Protecting people from the
dangers of second-hand smoke is
certainly a noble goal. But forcing
business owners to discriminate
against some of their most vital
customers is demeaning to the
owner and the smoker, and it's
even bad for the kids at home.
Robert Soave is a summer
associate editorial page
editor. He can be reached
at rsoavegumich.edu.

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