Monday, May 18, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
(Tbe ichid'an ail
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
JAMIE BLOCK ROBERT SOAVE RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITOR IN CHIEF MANAGING EDITOR EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflecttheofficial position of the Daily's editorial board. Allother
signed articles and illustrations represent solelytheviews of their authors
F ROM T HE DAI LY
Regions should lead Great Lakes cleanup
The Great' Lakes may finally see some
of the restoration they require. After
months in a congressional committee,
President Barack Obama's Great Lakes Restora-
tion Initiative, which requests millions of dollars
for the protection and restoration of the lakes,
is under consideration in Congress. Because the
lakes support most of the region, it's imperative
that they be nurtured. Congress should pass this
initiative and ensure that the budget is allocated
to the regional authorities who best understand
Regents should improve transparency of rate increase decisions
The University raising the cost of room and
board is nothing new. Neither is the Board of
Regents approving the increases without public
discussion. Despite students' economic concerns,
this year is no different.
On May 14, the Regents passed a 3.9-percent
increase in room and board rates for the 2009-
2010 school year but provided little information
as to the necessity of the increase. Without this
information, it's difficult for students to under-
stand why their room and board rates continue to
rise egregiously. The regents should make the pro-
cess by which it decides upon rate increases more
transparent and work to invite student input.
The hike in room and board rates consists of
a 1.9-percent increase to cover the rising cost of
operating expenses and a 2-percent increase for
Residential Life Initiatives. The Residential Life
Initiatives pays for the maintenence and repair of
the residence halls, keeping them in good shape
for current and future students. The increase
means the price of a standard double in the resi-
dence halls will cost more than $9,000 in most
residence halls - $334 more expensive next year
than it was last year.
This is too high of a cost for students. Many pay
their own room and board or take out loans to
cover the cost. Should the University continue to
raise the rent, it could easily price many students
out of the residence halls. In the current econom-
ic climate, the University should be taking steps
to make college more affordable - and that must
extend to housing costs as well.
But the repercussions are more far-reaching
than the economic impact on individual students.
The residence halls should be home to a socioeco-
nomically diverse group of students. When the
halls become more expensive, they are no lon-
ger viable options for less wealthy students. As
these students are forced to choose inexpensive
private housing, there is less interaction between
students from different economic backgrounds.
This causes de facto segregation on a campus
that should instead promote the integration of
students with different backgrounds.
What makes the situation even worse is that stu-
dents don't even know if these costs are necessary.
The vague description of the Residential Life Ini-
tiatives provides little explanation. And any debate
or discussion the regents may have had on the
rates took place behind closed doors. In their pub-
lic meeting, they approved the rate increase unani-
mously, without any real public hearing or even
debate amongst themselves. But the University's
continued resistance to givingstudents a chance to
express their opinions combined with the regents'
lack of discussion makes it obvious that the Univer-
sity doesn't care about students' concerns.
The Regents weren't taking student con-
cerns into account when it passed a 3.9-percent
increase in room and board rates last week. For
students, too much rides on the cost of room and
board for them to be denied the knowledge of
what the regents take into account when approv-
ing rate increases. More importantly, students
need the ability to comment on it.
how to spend it.
Obama's 2010 fiscal budget
asked for $475 million to be
allocated to the Great Lakes
Restoration Initiative. This
amount would push annual fed-
eral spending on the Great Lakes
past $1 billion. The initiative
targets the restoration of coast-
lines, protection ofwildlife and
elimination of contaminants. To
ensure that these objectives are
met, $65 million has been ear-
marked for evaluating and mon-
itoring the initiative's progress.
If Congress approves this bill,
its ecological benefits would
be substantial. According to
the Environmental Protection
Agency, the current level of
phosphorous and algae blooms
in the Great Lakes is danger-
ously high, which negatively
impacts wildlife and reduces
water supply. These pollutants
are among those targeted by the
bill's restoration efforts.
The Great Lakes are worth
this fight because economic
improvements are greatly influ-
enced by ecological conditions.
The industries based around the
Great Lakes, such as transporta-
tion, communications and trade,
are the backbone of the regional
economies and depend upon the
condition of the lakes. For exam-
ple, tourism - a major source of
income for Michigan - would
increase as a result of restoring
the lakes and would help to revi-
talize local economies.
And because it's local econo-
mies that feel the most direct
impact of the state of the Great
Lakes, this issue should be put
in the hands of the Great Lakes
states rather than the federal
government. Local agencies
have a better idea of what needs
to be done and how to effectively
do it than the more removed and
less directly dependent federal
The Great Lakes have been
neglected for too long. To pro-
tect this environmental and eco-
nomic resource, Congress needs
to pass this initiative swiftly so
the regional governments can
get to work.
BRITTANY SMITH I
Reviving Detroit's economy
With Detroit suffering from a
slumping economy, challenging
issues have thrust the city under
a microscope, open to all for judg-
ment, speculation and ridicule.
Among its current problems,
there have been scandals involv-
ing corrupt politicians, some of
whom are suspected of politick-
ing at the expense of taxpayers.
The Detroit Public School Dis-
trict has been victimized by dras-
tic budget cuts that will cause 29
schools to close at the end of this
school year. Unemployment rates
have skyrocketed. But what I find
t be one of the most interest-
ing causes of Detroit's economic
instability is the phenomenon
called "white flight."
When Detroit was a booming
industrial city in the early- and
mid-1900s, its revenue cane from
the white upper and middle class-
es. In the mid-1900s, white flight
- during which the city's white
population drastically decreased
due to the arrival of blacks in
predominantly white areas -
changed this booming industrial
city. Consequently, the city's rev-
enue became largely dependent
on the black middle class. Now
that Detroit's black middle class
is moving out, the city's revenue
base is suffering. When a city's
population decreases, the tax base
shrinks.Yet, despitethe decreased
income, itstill attempted to main-
tain the same level of operation
instead of adjusting its budget to
reflect the loss of revenue.
To solve some of Detroit's
problems, local and state policy-
makers must have honest con-
versations. Though many may
disagree, I think it's in Detroit
policymakers' best interest to
involve the state in the regent-
rification process of this city. If
Detroit sees that one strategy
doesn't work, changes must be
made so that strong, resourceful
alliances can be sought.
To make the improvements
the city needs, old ideas must be
replaced with new ideas. The
city must find optimistic leaders
with fresh ideas and the capac-
ity to restore Detroit's potential,
maintain an informed citizenship
and call for educational reform
that will enable Detroit's youth.
Through this education reform,
Detroit will be investing in the
promise of its youth to create a
better tomorrow for their city.
Educating the youth of Detroit
will lead to a more stable future.
In addition, Detroit must create a
promising industry to attract the
brightest and best leadership to
stay, live and thrive in this city.
The million dollar question, of
course, is if Detroit will bounce
back and stabilize its economy
by providing its citizens with job
security and attract interest to
repopulate the city or continue to
- Brittany Smith is an