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August 11, 2008 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-08-11

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Monday, August 11, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan since
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109





Unsigned editorials reflect thesofficialposition of the Daily's editorialboard. Allsothernsigned articles and illustrations
represent solely the views of their authors.
Making the (green) grade
What the 'U' can - and should - do to up its environmental marks
Across the nation, the faces of eager college-bound high schoolers lit up two
weeks ago when the Princeton Review released its annual publication "The
Best 368 Colleges" rankings. But this year, it wasn't just dorm food or class-
room space being sized up. For the first time ever, campuses were also graded on just
how "green" they are. The University of Michigan earned a solid score, but that's no
excuse to rest on its laurels. The release of the rankings provides the perfect opportu-
nity to reassess the state of the University's earth-friendliness, searching for ways to
improve old problems while simultaneously looking to top scorers for innovative ideas

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The American way


for improvement in the futur
Schools were judged accord-
ing to the health and quality of
life of students on campus, how
well the school trains students
to work and live in environmen-
tally responsible ways and how
responsible the school itself
is when it comes to ecologi-
cal impact. In an increasingly
eco-conscious age, it's good to
see that companies like The
Princeton Review are begin-
ning to recognize that factors
like a school's carbon footprint
are important to students. Like-
wise, while the amount of faith
that should be put in rankings
like these is still up for debate,
publishing this data undoubt-
edly goes a long way to hold
schools accountable for their
environmental practices.
The University earned a grade
of 83, a respectable showing
considering marks ranged from
60 to 99. But that still leaves it 14
points short of the top score and
deprived of a spot among the
top eleven schools on the Green
Rating Honor Roll. What's more
disappointing than the Univer-
sity's score is the fact that it very

easily could have done better.
There are a lot of easy changes
that people have been asking the
University to make for years.
The University could, for
example, easily be more proac-
tive about moving to more ener-
gy-efficient lighting, reducing
energy use during off-hours and
changing the type of lighting
being used. It should unques-
tionably be committed to green
building measures in all of its
construction and renovation
projects and listen to student
environmental advocacy groups
that encourage participating in
programs like LEED certifica-
It's also important to look
for new ways to improve. For
instance, schools like Oberlin
College have created sustain-
able living projects in which
students can take part. In these
communities, students can learn
about and incorporate into their
lifestyles practices like timed
showering, water reuse and
The University of Michigan
already has a number of resi-

dence-based learning and living
communities, providing a blue-
print that would make adding a
sustainable living community a
Students are increasingly
looking for conscientious cam-
puses. Making these changes
and providing these kinds of
opportunities, then, not only
does good things for the plan-
et; it helps keep the University
competitive in the battle for
tuition dollars. It's also a chance
to demonstrate its commitment
to environmental issues in a
tangible and useful way.
The University prides itself
on being one of the leading
research institutes in the world,
prods cing only the highest cali-
ber of citizens. If it wants to
maintain that reputation, it's
important not only that it be the
birthplace of major advance-
ments in the areas of climate
change, energy-efficiency and
cleaner technology but also the
testing ground for sound envi-
ronmental practices as well. As
the adage goes, the best way to
teach is by example.

I want to be surprised that
the candidates for the American
presidencyhavetaken something
as important as a national elec-
tion and turned it into something
that more closely resembles a
high school student council cam-
paign. Unfortunately, I'm not.
That's why when I turned on
my television last week and lis-
tened to John McCain compare
Barack Obama to Britney Spears
or Paris Hilton, I was hardly
stunned. Nor was I taken off-
guard when Obama lashed right
back (though I'll admit that I
never thought that I would wit-
ness Paris Hilton's own personal
attacks.) Mud-slingingin politics
is an age-old tradition.
In fact, I don't even really hold
participating in these kinds of
ad wars against them - McCain
and Obama are goiig to employ
the techniques that will most
likely find them a seat in the Oval
Office. In fact, I would expect
no less from any American run-
ning for president. You use the
strategy that works - even if that
means resorting to name-calling
and finger-pointing.
It has become both trite and
cliche to suggest that a politician
is not upstanding, and it is con-
sidered naive to believe that any-
one running for office is not at
best a manipulator of words and
at worst an outright liar. "Cam-
paign promises" is a term synon-
ymous with "empty dreams." Yet
every time one of these officials
will get voted into office with

very little controversy. In other
words, these types of "dirty"
politicians are widely accepted
by most Americans as just "the
way things are," dirty politics
the expectation not the anomaly
when election time rolls around.
It's become almost endearing
to many Americans that "Ameri-
can Idol" draws almost as many
votes as the number cast in the
national election. We say that's
a sad statistic, but since nothing
ever changes, we have more or
less accepted it as American tra-
dition at this point.
Even for those who do find
their way to the poll, most need
only what they see in TY com-
mercialseand party affiliation to
cast their ballots. As such, John
McCain isn't going to waste his
time with lengthy television
commercials outlining his plan
for Iraq. Instead he's going to do
his best to tell you that Obama is
not nearly as good of a candidate
as he is.
And this strategy will prob-
ably work. Then in four years,
everyone will suggest again that
we have a nice clean campaign
while accepting the fact that
this is not a realistic suggestion.
Maybe once Americans care
enough to vote, dirty election
propaganda will stop. Unfor-
tunately, at this point that goal
seems like a pipe dream.
Elise Baun is an LSA
senior and a member of the
Daily's editorial board.




EditorialBoard Members:
Elise Baun, Anindya Bhadra, Harun Buljina, Robert Soave

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