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July 11, 2011 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-07-11

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Monday, July 11, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


When Egyptians buried their
deceased royals, they left all
kinds of tools and items behind
because they thought they
would be needed in the afterlife
- imagine if your family for-
got something. And along with
essentials like jewelry and fur-
niture, they also buried a per-
son with their organs, because
if you need your tiara in heaven
you certainly can't forget your
spleen, right? Do you think you
would die again if you didn't
have your heart when you met
Ra? I don't think this was a very
carefully crafted religion.
We can all recognize super-
stition and absurd tradition in
hindsight, but can we recognize
it happening today? Contrary to
our Egyptian ancestors, we've
realized that furniture and jew-
elry might serve the living bet-
ter than the dead, but why are
we still leaving organs with the
deceased? I imagine some of this
is done out of consideration for
the worms, but there might be a
better use for them. How about
donating them to people who are
still living, but won't be much
longer without a new spleen?
Besides the Anubis revivalists,
I bet most people think we should
donate organs upon death, but
this requires some kind of agency
on the part of an individual. I am
pretty lazy and haven't regis-
tered, just like I'm sure many of
you and people you know haven't
registered for equally legitimate
reasons. Why do we leave people's
lives up to the motivation of a
lethargic populace?
The U.S. currently uses an
opt-in system, and it would make
a lot more sense if we had an
opt-out one. Rather than hav-
ing to sign up and file a bunch of
paperwork to assert that you are
a conscious individual, we could
simply assume that humanity is
full of somewhat decent people
and have everyone on the organ
donation list. If for some reason



in death
you think Anubis will bounce
you at the door for not having
your kidneys in the afterlife, you
can opt out of this very reason-
able policy. On the other hand,
if you are like most people,
ambivalent, or are one of the few
who take selfish pleasure in the
form of charity, you can simply
do nothing and your organs will
be donated to those who can use
them after you croak. What's not
to like?
I'll tell you. This policy may
be a good solution to our paucity
of transplantable vitalities, but
I think we can just skip all the
libertarian-pleasing foreplay for a
policy that does the most amount
of good: mandatory organ dona-
tion. I for one think it's a travesty
to allow any viable organ to go into
the ground if it could save some-
one else's life. Perhaps we could
have the illusion of an opt-out
policy so that then when some-
one tries to opt out we just take
out their organs then and there as
they aren't worthy of participating
in the human race.
But putting the manslaughter
aspect of the policy aside, what
would honestly be wrong with
society claiming organs in the
event of someone's death? The
government already takes your
income away in taxes. When
you die the government can take
money or property from your
estate, and rightly so. So why
don't we just bundle organs in
with the estate tax? Your prog-
eny can actually use the funds
from their dead relatives, but
they don't get anything out
of burying a body with all its
innards. Your loved one is going
to be maggot riddled carrion at
some point anyway, why not get
the organs out while the getting
is good? On the day you need a
new kidney, you'll have wished
you made this policy a reality.
Teddy Papes is the
editorial page editor.

actually maybe we are actually living in and Rick santorum have both
"parallel earth", and our universe signed a pledge calling for a ban
i % Like, have you ever thought that In other news, Michele Bachmann
is just a mirror-image bizarro on pornograpfihy. The pledge also No reason.
version of a more sensible labels homosexuality as a choice,
you world? health risk, and a threat to
out? the institute of marriage.
Not really. Why?
9-N- 94-1

College revan

There has been much debate
recently about the main goal of
higher education
and if universi-
ties are current-
ly achieving it.
Louis Menand, a
prominent aca-
demic and writer
of several books
on higher edu-
cation, recently ERIK
offered three TORENBERG
explanatory the-
ories in a June 6
New Yorker article.
The theories essentially respond
to the following question: What
should be the main goal of college?
Theory1: College should be meri-
College should provide a metric
to employers that explicitly delin-
eates the most talented and hard-
working students so employers can
hire the most talented employees.
But, as Menand notes, talent isn't so
easy to evaluate: "There is no intel-
lectual equivalent of a 10 yard dash.
An intelligent person is open mind-
ed, an outside-the-box thinker, an
effective communicator, is prudent,
self-critical, consistent and so on."
That said, a student's GPA, Menand
believes, is a fairly trustworthy
indicator of "intellectual capacity
and productive potential."
Except it isn't. GPA doesn't mea-
sure half of the skills he mentioned
above. And, by omission, practices
such as outside-the-box think-
ing, self-exploration and effective
communication are actually dis-
couraged. College should be merito-
cratic, but our current GPA system
doesn't reward the skills most cru-
cial to success. Creating metrics
that incentivize such skills will
become increasingly more impor-
Theory 2: College should be dem-
Menand first claims that college
should enlighten and empower stu-
dents by exposing them to mate-
rial that they will not encounter
otherwise. He then claims that the

main goal of theory 2 is for "high-
er education to be available to all
Americans." These aren't mutually
exclusive, but increasing accessibil-
ity means that the barrier of entry
has to be lowered, which can nega-
tively affect the quality of students.
Aiming to develop an enlightened
citizenry and aiming to have a dem-
ocratic one isn't exactly the same
thing. As Menand elaborates, it's
apparent Theory 2 is about wider
accessibility, not improved quality.
Theory 3: College should serve
our economic interests.
"Advanced economies demand
specialized skills, and since high
school is aimed at the general learn-
er, college is where people can be
taught what they need in order to
enter a vocation."
There are acouple problemswith
such an approach. First, economies
change. Jobs exist now that didn't
exist 10 years ago. Second, recent
studies suggest thatstudents in spe-
cialized schools aren't developing
critical thinkingskills.
So Theory 1 (meritocratic)
doesn't do what it's designed to
do; GPA doesn't measure the skills
most important to success. Theory
2 (democratic) isn't enough by itself;
if the quality of education is so low,
who cares if it's widely accessible?
And Theory 3 (economic) is coun-
ter-intuitive; economies demand
new skills over time, so some spe-
cialties may not even be necessary.
In the age of Peter Thiel Uncol-
lege, a website that is trying to
reboot the collegiate system, when
the cost of college is rising and the
web is facilitating cheaper alterna-
tives, universities need to reinvent
themselves. This calls for a new
theory, one that will reconcile and
encompass elements from the other
three approaches.
Theory 4: College should pro-
mote personal growth of individu-
als with the intent to cultivate an
enlightened citizenry.
In NYU Professor Jeffrey
Arum's book "Academically Adrift"
he stated that students aren't learn-
ing enough during college. There

is debate over the validity of his
study, but what hasn't been debat-
ed - and what the validity of the
study depends on - is whether we
have a shared understanding of
what learning is and what students
should be learning. Arum's tests
focused on analytical reasoning,
problem solving, and clear commu-
But what about creativity? A
Newsweek article claimed that it's
the #1 sought after skill in the busi-
ness world.
need to reinvent
What about our self-knowledge?
It's tremendously important that
we understand how our narratives
- biological and cultural - have
affected us, and that we have the
ability to reflect and change habits.
What about our ability to empa-
thize, connect with and lead others?
David Brooks claimed that "master-
ing these arduous skills is at the
very essence of achievemen.t"
An enlightened citizenry has
not only mastered its ability to
reason, but it has also mastered
its emotions. Theory 4 will stress
self-knowledge, social intelligence,
independence in thought and action
with the intent to change students'
dispositions. It will aim to influ-
ence how they think, not what they
Perhaps Theory 4 will guide
universities of the future. Menand
would be happy to see students
questioningthe importance of what
they are doing. He wonders if stu-
dents are still asking those often
negatively received - but all too
important - tough questions.
Erik Torenberg can be reached
at erikto@umich.edu.

4 Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor.
Letters should be fewer than 300 words and must include the writer's
full name and University affiliation.
Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.

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