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June 01, 2010 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-06-01

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


A corrupt institution



All universities must take pru-
dent steps to prevent campus vio-
at Virginia Tech University and
University of Alabama-Huntsville.
But the University of Michigan is
exploiting the tense and fearful
environment that arose from these
incidents. The administration has
repeatedly used false allegations
of threatening behavior to justify
the actions they have taken to pun-
ish and discredit faculty, students
and staff. This has brought true
shame upon a great university, and
the recently published case of the
treatment of Dr. Andrei Borisov is
one such example. Unfortunately,
it is but one of many similar cases
at the University.
Dr. Borisov accused a fellow
faculty member of claiming credit
for his work and violating federal
rules regarding research grants.
His department, the Department
of Pediatrics and Communicable
Diseases, retaliated against him,
accusing him of being "threaten-
ing" because he continued a con-
versation with a fellow faculty
member all the way to his car. The
fellow faculty member has said
that he did not feel threatened, but
the department chair called the
campus police to read Dr. Borisov
a trespass warning and bar him
from campus anyway. The officers
arrested him for trespassing and
resisting arrest, but he was acquit-
ted of all charges. Yet the Univer-
sity still refuses to lift the trespass
warning and maintains the fic-
tion that Dr. Borisov is guilty of
"threatening behavior."
Linda Martinson was a student
in the College of Nursing when she
was accused of threatening behav-
ior and the campus police were
called to read her a trespass warn-
ing, effectively expelling her since
she couldn't attend class. After the
trespass warning, the administra-
tion found no grounds for emergen-
cyexpulsionbased onpsychological
illness or violation of the student
code. Still, the College of Nursing
and the campus police refused to
lift the trespass warning. The Col-
lege did not follow the Office of Stu-
dent Conflict Resolution process,
instead inventing a new process
within the College. The result was
that Martinson was expelled in
less than a week after a hearing at
which she was not present because
she was not notified that it was tak-
ing place. She appealed for a new
hearing and won, but the appeals
board's findings were ignored by
the College.
I was a tenured professor in
the College of Medicine, and I

was threatened by a University
attorney after I filed a grievance
against my chairman. I was told
that I was scaring people and that
if I did not stop talking to people
about my grievances, I would be
declared dangerous, fired and
would have to make the next call
to my attorney from Kipke Avenue
(the office of campus police).
The former University Gen-
eral Counsel, Elsa Cole, testified
in a deposition that she spoke at a
national meetingofuniversitygen-
eral counsels about how the admin-
istration handles whistleblowers
at the University of Michigan, thus
spreading the administration's tac-
tics to other universities.
Every time the administration
strips away rightsto a fair grievance
hearing or to investigate wrongdo-
ing, they increase their power to
intimidate faculty, students and
staff. The Administration tried to
trick the Michigan Student Assem-
bly into proposing the reduction of
proof required for violations of the
student code of rights and respon-
sibilities from" clear and convinc-
ing evidence" to "a preponderance
of the evidence" in order to make it
easier to expel students.
The administration has fought
tooth and nail against having a
properly elected and function-
ing Department of Public Safety
Oversight Committee. There were
no elections for student or faculty
members of the committee for
more than 10 years and the admin-
istration recently rewrote rules
for the committee that allow the
police chief and president of the
University to block any grievance
hearing they object to. This codi-
fies the president's power to cover
up police misconduct.
I have lobbied the University',
including at the Board of Regents
meeting three times and in a letter
to President Coleman, for changes
to policies and procedures that will
protect faculty, staff and students
from such false allegations and for
true civilian oversight of campus
police. The campus police should
be responsive to the rights of all
members of the University com-
munity, not just the wishes of the
administration. The administra-
tion has responded by "circling the
wagons" to protect its members
and preserve their power to treat
faculty, staff and students as they
wish. It is time for the University
community to stand up and tell the
Board of Regents that their rights
must be protected.
Douglas Smith is a former
Medical professor.

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a °
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Donating life

've heard of people using Face-
book to find apartments or
roommates or to sell or buy
furniture. But _
Melissa Foster of
Pontiac is taking.
the commodity
search to a whole
new level. She's
using Facebook to
find a new kidney.
Foster's kidney RACHEL
started failing VANGLLDER
when she was 16
years old, accord-
ing to a May 26
article in the Detroit News. She
waited nine years for a replacement,
which her body is now rejecting.
So she started the Facebook group
"Mel Needs a Kidney" to search for
individuals who would be willing to
donate a kidney to her. To date, Fos-
ter has received about 100 replies
from possible donors willing to be
tested to see if their kidney would be
compatible to hers.
I hope that Foster's search for
a compatible donor is successful,
and that her body doesn't reject a
replacement kidney a second time.
I admire her determination and ini-
tiative to work around a notoriously
long process. But individual use of
social networking sites to search
for organs doesn't solve a much
larger problem: Michigan needs
more organ donors. When you think
about it, it's a scientific miracle that
organ donation is even possible. But
the miracle is being stifled by a lack
of donors.
The specifics of Foster's case allow
her to look for a donor privately. A
donor can give her the organ she
needs without suffering serious inju-
ry because humans only need one
kidney to survive, even though we
are born with two. Similarly, living

donors can provide a liver to anoth-
er person since the human liver has
remarkable regenerative proper-
ties. But many organs aren't redun-
dant. Human beings can't offer up
their heart, pancreas or stomach to
another person via Facebook. More
Michigan residents should register
to be organ donors so that Facebook
doesn't have to become the go-to
option for finding an organ.
Michigan has among the low-
est percentage of donors in the
nation. According to the Detroit
News report, the state ranks 42nd.
That kind of sucks, especially since
the process is so easy to become a
donor. All Michiganders need to do
is go online to add their name to the
registry of organ donors. Michigan
law requires that organ donors vol-
unteer, so unless residents add their
name to the registry, they aren't
donors by default.
College students should lead the
way to increase Michigan's number
of registered organ donors. Stu-
dents don't tend to give death much
serious consideration. We're at a
time in our lives when we feel invin-
cible. And for the most part, I think
that's okay. That confidence helps
us prepare for the rest of our lives.
But there is always the chance that
something could happen, despite
our Superman-like mentality, so it's
good to be prepared. College stu-
dents are typically in good physical
condition, making us prime donors.
And, though no one likes to consider
the possibility, an accident or illness
could make almost anyone in need
of a new organ. Students should be
aware that they can - and should -
be donors.
I signed up to be an organ donor
last year after, coincidentally, I
noticed an ad on Facebook that
encouraged users to become donors.

It only took me a few minutes to
provide the required informa-
tion online. After I signed up, I was
mailed a small sticker shaped like a
heart to attach to my driver's license
so that emergency personnel will
know that I am a donor in the event
of a serious accident. The back of
Michigan licenses also have spaces
for residents to indicate if they'd be
willing to donate organs in the event
of sudden death.
College students
should lead in
organ donation.
To make sure that, should the cir-
cumstances ever arise, my wishes
would be fulfilled, I had to have a
very uncomfortable conversation
with my mother about which organs
I would want to donate. It was a
pretty morbid conversation, but I
encourage everyone to have that talk
with their parents or significant oth-
ers. It's bleak to think about, but the
reality is that it could matter a lot to
someone in need of a new pancreas
or skin grafts.
To become an organ donor, go to
the Michigan Secretary of State's
website and click on the "Organ
Donation" tab, then fill out the online
application to join the donor regis-
try. It only takes a few minutes. And
signing up makes college students
a lot more like Superman than just
feeling invincible: It could actually
save someone's life.
- Rachel Van Gilder is the Daily's
2010 editorial page editor. She can be
reached at rachelvg@umich.edu.

Nicholas Clift, Emma Jeszke, Harsha Panduranga,
Joe Stapleton, Rachel Van Gilder

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