#BBUM, An Intolerant History

March 19th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

bbum

The Being Black at the University of Michigan movement – a name by which one can immediately grasp the character of it’s organizers – and the subsequent BSU protests and demands, have their roots in an advertisement by a fraternity for a “Hood Ratchet” themed party on campus.

Citing racism on campus against black students, but making no mention of the fact that black students on campus and black cultural icons make frequent use of the term towards themselves, students took to Twitter, using #BBUM, to attack the university administration for such terrible crimes against black students as “Having your opinions be second guessed or ignored in a group assignment” and “Being soft spoken in class because you don’t feel you belong, but then being docked points because you are not engaged in class.”

What followed was a protest led by the Black Student Union and a reading of a list of seven demands, the granting of $300,000 to the Trotter Multicultural Center, the drafting of resolutions by the CSG, the creation of a “Color” section of the Michigan Daily, an all night sit-in of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library, and an ongoing student campaign for CSG which aims to bring race and ethnicity requirements to the Engineering school.

The nature of the demands can be illustrated by the tactics of the protesters, who threatened, ambiguously at first, “physical action” if the administration did not capitulate within seven days. While they later qualified their statement and remarked that they did not mean violent action, this did not stop the protestors from taking over the undergraduate library and demanding that students who were studying move elsewhere. Nor did it stop the threats, slander and harassment of students by allied group By Any Means Necessary, who late last year also protested an event about the Michigan ban on affirmative action by banging on the windows of the venue and making the atmosphere of the event so unsafe that the speaker, Jennifer Gratz, had to be escorted away by police.

Gratz, CEO of the XIV Foundation, herself perhaps best described the current protestors in three words: “Racists. Terrorists. Buffoons.”

Instead of sanctioning the BSU and it’s affiliates, as the administration would have and should have done for any right leaning group, on January 21st, Provost Martha Pollack took the protestors side in an email sent to the Michigan community in which she wrote that administrators

“…have identified three areas that need our most immediate attention: improving campus climate, increasing enrollment of underrepresented minorities to the fullest extent permitted by law, and addressing issues surrounding the Trotter Multicultural Center.”

Observe that what exactly was wrong with the campus climate before the protests was never defined. Nor was it explained how the blocking of traffic and threats of “physical action” contributed to improving the student climate. The most important evasion by Pollack however, was in her failing to answer why diversity of skin color constitutes a kind of diversity that will add to the intellectual life on campus, and how equality can ever be achieved in a system that values race over merit.

President Coleman then characteristically invited the students for a formal sit-down. During the discussions, which were nothing more than a puff job since the administration had already decided to give in to the BSU’s demands, the university proposed to give $300,000 for “renovations” to the Trotter Multicultural Center, a building intended for use by minority students only. What exactly these “renovations” entailed was never made public.

To reward these students, to even negotiate with them, is to lend sanction to an act of extortion and to teach students that threats of ambiguous and possibly illegal actions are right. Worse still, it is a savage hypocrisy for a self styled “progressive” institution of higher education to doll out favors to certain groups because of the color of their skin. Jennifer Gratz notes the problems that pandering to skin deep special interests causes in an excellent letter to the editor:

” ….The result of monumental efforts to restore special preferences for certain races and ethnicities has been to reinforce a way of thinking that imposes stale racial categories on unique individuals. Sadly, it is no wonder that students struggle with racial stereotypes when their administrators insist on treating minorities as racial tokens.”

Indeed, how can administrators expect a campus in which people are judged by the content of their character when they tell students that the color of their skin is the most important thing they have to offer? Such a stance does not only serve to hurt race relations on campus, but is itself, to use a much abused word, racist.

Not content with taking free money at the expense of their peers and alumni, the BSU worked with the Central Student Government to craft a resolution on racial diversity. The proposal included CSG’s support of the seven demands of the Black Student Union, increases in recruiting among minorities and the creation of the Dream Scholarship for undocumented students. The resolution also demanded that minority enrollment for the 2014 to 2015 year doubles, though it offered no solution as to how this could be accomplished within the bounds of the law.

Once more, the integrity of the resolution can be judged by the behavior of it’s drafter, Samual Molnar, who, when asked by the Michigan Daily what he thought of a free speech amendment proposed by CSG President Michael Proppe, replied:

“This isn’t a resolution about free speech, it’s a resolution about racism.”

The amendment was turned down, but the CSG assembly eventually decided that it could lend some limited support to free speech if it directly related to combating racism. The final amendment reads, “CSG defends the right of all students to speak the plain truth about racism,” which does nothing more than grant protestors the protection to label anyone who opposes them a racist.

Perhaps the decision would have gone differently if the Michigan Daily had honestly reported the facts for what they were: a small group of radical students, claiming to represent all students, being pandered to by the university after issuing unconstitutional and racist demands, and slandering anyone who spoke out against them. But the Daily, outdoing it’s own previous commitment to untruth, launched Michigan in Color, a blog dedicated to inflating the scale of the protests and undercutting opposition.

A bit of unlettered writing – characteristic of the blog  – which appeared in a post entitled “Angered and Intimidated” on February 18th  ,best captures the reasoning that informs the entire movement and the shameless attempt by the Daily to puff it up:

“There is not a large amount of Black students, which means that they do not desire to have Black students, this means that they do not think there are enough Black people who are “the leaders and the best…”

That the students on the Daily should accept this as a piece of journalism worth publishing is symptom of a diseased university that teaches students to place their instincts and feelings above facts. “What does it matter if the “author” can’t write? What does it matter if the reasoning is groundless?”

Even more telling though is the attitude the Daily has taken towards students who disagree. When a student, who will remain anonymous, submitted an article that questioned the validity of the entire movement, Daily staffers informed him that they could not publish the article because they did not want to be offensive. Notice that they did not question the truth in the article, they simply shrugged and tacitly suggested that they didn’t care.

These, ladies and gentlemen, are the products of a university that is consistently ranked in the top twenty universities in the world: students who are trained to respect anything but the truth, and to sneer at, to twist, to deconstruct anything so long as it doesn’t offend a small group of minorities.

A group of these students now seeks to impose race and ethnicity requirements on the Business and Engineering schools, and they will likely succeed, if the past months are any indicator.

The question that is to be asked, when reflecting on this brief history of the movement is: what is it really about? The facts speak for themselves. It has nothing to do with diversity and even less to do with equality.

In an article in the National Review, Jennifer Gratz explained this:

“To date, university officials have championed superficial diversity, and not even the kind that matters. They have found great pride in praising U-M’s racial enrollment statistics and producing pretty brochures highlighting all the different skin colors on campus…”

She goes on in another letter to praise “diversity of thought,” and points out the hypocrisy of an administration that has always been hostile to any idea that doesn’t fit its world view but champions something so insignificant as diversity of race.

“Race does not determine an individual’s background, views, talents or achievements. Every student, regardless of color, deserves to be seen as he is, not as public officials wish him to be.”

BBUM, the BSU, and BAMN think otherwise. What the protestors want is to fight an ill defined, unprovable “racism” with racism. They want special privileges because of their skin color to be acquired at the expense of other students. They want separate rules and separate treatment for minority students. They care nothing for equality under the law – their very movement is a rejection of legal equality – and what’s worse, they have been able to openly acknowledge this without any serious pushback from anyone within the Coleman administration. Diversity of thought may be good, they and the university claim, but diversity of color is better. Some Wolverines are equal, but others are more equal.

 

Derek Magill

Derek Magill

Derek Magill is a LSA student in the Classics Department

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Some Summer Educational Opportunities For The Classically Liberal At The University Of Michigan

February 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

ihs 1Are you a classical liberal student at the University of Michigan who is looking for summer educational opportunities with like minded individuals? The Institute for Humane Studies and the Foundation for Economic Education have announced their Summer 2014 seminars for undergraduate students interested in the ideas of liberty. The seminars are taught at locations around the country by top academics in fields such as economics, history, philosophy, political science, filmmaking, art, and policy. Typical seminar days include lectures throughout the day with breaks for snacks and lunch, and socials at night where students have an opportunity to network and develop closer relationships with their peers and professors.

Accepted students receive tuition, room, and board at no charge. Applications close March 31st.

From the Institute for Humane Studies:

“IHS Summer Seminars stretch your mind and explore the notions of liberty, drawn from the classical liberal intellectual tradition, while inviting you to look at the world and your future plans with the cause of freedom in mind.

During each seminar, you’ll be engaged by lectures from leading scholars drawing on history, economics, philosophy, public policy, law, and a wide variety of professional experiences.

Each seminar is designed to raise big questions, foster in-depth discussions, and create opportunities to connect with people from around the world who believe in liberty. And you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of liberty, new career possibilities, and a multidisciplinary network.

What’s more, through the IHS Summer Seminars you’ll gain valuable career and intellectual skills. Learn not to take anything for granted but rather, continue to challenge the status quo.

Finally, you’ll find it’s also a great time to make long-lasting friendships with bonds on the ideas of freedom that will last a lifetime.”

Featured Seminar: “Foundations of Liberty: The Rule of Law” June 12-15 ● Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia, PA

“On the one hand, we all want our individual liberties and freedom to lead fruitful, productive lives. But being a community of individuals, we also need laws to guarantee those freedoms. But how much is enough and at what point is it too much?

Our Foundations of Liberty: The Rule of Law seminar will provide an engaging introduction to the foundations of a free society by exploring the legal, economic, and philosophical roots of libertarian thought and how it is applied to insure rights as individuals. It is ideal for students seeking to understand how the central principle of classical liberalism—individual liberty—relates to the history of the law and our current legal institutions.”

For a complete list of seminars:

http://www.theihs.org/summer-seminars 

fee rebels

From the Foundation for Economic Education:

“FEE’s mission is to inspire, educate and connect future leaders with the economic, ethical and legal principles of a free society.

For young minds interested in an introduction to free market economics and its foundations in the broader philosophy of individual liberty, FEE is the best source for inspiring content, programs and community. FEE is not an academic or political organization; instead our focus is making the economic, ethical and legal principles of a free society widely accessible, easily understood and energizing to young minds. We do this by delivering content that is substantive and thoughtful in forms most convenient to our customers, including in-person seminars and lectures, web-delivered content, printed material in book and magazine form, and networking opportunities. At FEE, young people—and educators who work with them—will find an exciting and optimistic introduction to the Austrian and classical liberal traditions in free market economics as well as opportunities to connect with other young people and free-market organizations around the world.”

Featured Seminar:  “Good Intentions or Good Results? How Trade, Property, and Entrepreneurship will Help the Developing World” July 31 – August 1 ● Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI

“What causes wealth and what can be done to help those without it? Billions of dollars are spent on aid programs, while millions continue to starve. These programs help people feel better about the suffering in the world, but what actually helps alleviate that suffering? What is the cause of wealth in the world? This introduction to economic thinking will help you answer these questions. This introductory seminar will not give you all of the answers to these complex problems; it will give you the tools to find the answers yourself.”

For a complete list of seminars:

http://www.fee.org/seminars/college

Contact Derek Magill at derekmag@umich.edu for more information.

Derek Magill

Derek Magill

Derek Magill is a LSA student in the Classics Department

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Economics of Health Care System

October 28th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

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There should be government interventions insomuch that the government helps fix market inefficiencies so that the health care system can in the future be semi-autonomous. The worry of inefficiency is well grounded in the fact that the system is absurdly expensive compared to other developed countries. Nearly 18% of GDP ($2.5 trillion) is contributed by the health care sector – the highest percentage in the developed world. If we compare percentage of GDP per capita, the number of the US doubles that of any developed country.

Three market players brought such inefficiency: patients as consumers, insurers as intermediaries, and physicians as providers. Each category with its distinctive features has given birth to different types of inefficiency in the health care system.

Consumer: Free Rider Problem, Overconsumption, and Moral Hazard

Judge Vinson has well described health care demand: “First, as living and breathing human beings who are always susceptible to sudden and unpredictable illness and injury, no one can ‘opt out’ of the health care market. Second, if and when health services are sought, hospitals are required by law to provide care, regardless of inability to pay. And third, if the costs incurred cannot be paid, they are passed along to third parties, which has economic implications for everyone.”

Indeed, under the veil of ignorance regarding their future demand for health goods, people can reach a higher expected utility level without buying insurance. This is especially true for the poor who get paid by the government when sick, because it lowers their income in the state of health without increasing their income in the state of sickness. They are free riding the whole system in the sense that they are using health care without paying because they know government and taxpayers will pay for it anyway. According to a report last year, people who are uninsured consume about half as much health care as those insured. Each uninsured person contributes about $1,500 per year to the health care system and leaves about half of that cost as bad debt – a huge burden on the health care system.

Even people who pay insurance premiums for health care cannot be completely ruled out as free riders. At least they are over-consuming health care, just like customers do in a buffet – you have to “win” back all your money by eating as much as you can, which is often beyond your real need.

Moral hazard is another problem related to unnecessary health care. It is a term used when an individual is willing to take more risks because the cost of his or her action will be covered by health insurance. For instance, smoking is a major causative factor in many illnesses including lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, strokes, and COPD that will cost a lot for treatment. Yet smokers are not subject to higher premiums in Medicare and many insurance plans. Other harmful behaviors include alcohol or drug abuse, motorcycle riding, and even unhealthy daily habits that leads to obesity.

Proper government intervention, however, can control free rider problems, overconsumption, and moral hazard, by putting limits on insurance coverage. More importantly, it can help to build a mechanism that internalizes social costs and sets the right incentives for health care consumers.

Intermediary: Asymmetric Information, Risk Selection, and Insurance Market Stability

Insurance works as a risk-pooling mechanism in which people pay a small amount of premium in order to receive benefits when adverse events happen during insurance’s term. When insurers know loss probabilities and premiums are actuarially fair (premium equals expected loss), all risk types will opt in for full insurance at different premiums. However in real life, the actual loss probability is either unattainable or cannot be incorporated into insurance contracts. Consumers can take advantage of their better knowledge on their own health to adverse select insurance contracts to their benefits.

Insurers are well aware of adverse selection and adopt direct and indirect risk selection methods in response. Risk selection is a growing phenomenon as the dominance of commercial insurers in the US health insurance market increases. Evidence includes a recent survey by the American Medical Association that says, “a single private health insurance company controlled more than half the market for insurance in 16 states and a third of the market in 38 states.”

With the presence of risk selection, high risks are more likely to be offered a less attractive contract, while low risks are more likely to shop around and switch insurers. The effects of this are two-fold. Many high risks end up uninsured while commercial insurers end up with more high risks under their coverage so they have to increase premium or file for bankruptcy. Both have negative effects on social efficiency and shake the insurance market stabilization.

Government intervention can reduce the incentive of risk selection by prohibiting selection methods such as selling supplementary benefits or offering outright payment to attractive risks or, though not quite enforceable, requires the specification of the benefit package. Lower risk selection provides a possible way to stabilize health insurance market by reducing incentives for low risks to shop around and change insurers.

Provider: Dual Role of Physicians, Supplier-Induced-Demand, and Lack of Transparency

Physicians are always regarded as gatekeepers to the health care system. However, their dual role in relation to their patients puts their efficiency in suspicion. They are providers of medical services as well as advisors concerning it. Demand for medical service is supplier-induced and that is the reason why no trend of underemployment has ever occurred even when the number of Medical School graduates and physicians in the market keeps growing for years.

Two conditions that facilitate the effect of supplier-induced demand are comprehensive health insurance and riskless medical technology. When people are under comprehensive health insurance, their own willingness-to-pay becomes irrelevant on their medical service demand, thus causing the medical demand to be completely supplier-induced. Riskless medical technology means little marginal cost to physicians. For example, physicians have more incentive to provide some diagnostic procedures to exclude the existence of a concomitant disease saucing the same symptoms. The problem is that what seems to be of no cost to physicians is actually a huge cost to society.

Lack of transparency due to information asymmetry and market power explains a great deal of the absurdly huge medical cost in US. The lack of transparency is not just for major medical procedures like cancer treatments or heart bypass surgery, but also for everything in doctor’s offices everywhere. In a report earlier this year, Forbes gave out some data depicting how lack of transparency increases medical costs without increasing quality. “Imagine if you fell off your bike and had a head injury such that your doctor ordered some tests…For a CT scan of the head, the prices vary from $240 to $1421.63; for an MRI of the brain, the price varies from $625 to $3316…If you were on Medicare, the price would be set at the low end of this range. If you were not, you and your employer could very easily be stuck with a much higher bill for a test run on an identical machine and in many cases reviewed by the same radiologist.” Moreover, “In 49 major metro areas, CT scan prices vary by more than 500 percent; cost of a simple cholesterol panel on a blood sample varies by 474 percent in the median major metropolitan area in the U.S; cost for a screening mammogram can by over 350 percent.” However, the quality is pretty much the same.

Supplier-Induced demand is somewhat harder to solve since it requires expertise that most people don’t have and it’s largely a case-by-case problem. However, government intervention is able to make pricing in heath care more transparent, so that patients and their employers have a chance to compare the prices and qualities between providers. The benefits are twofold, on the one hand, consumers are able to choose the right product and service that fits their needs, and on the other hand, suppliers are pressured by competition to improve their quality and decrease their costs.

A More Effective Government Intervention

Characteristics of different market players in the health care system suggest that government intervention is necessary for correcting market incentives and optimizing social efficiency. However, more criteria should be met to insure a more effective government intervention.

Equity is one of the extra concerns. For example, compulsory insurance is a solution proposed, but it is essentially an unfair wealth redistribution that hurts healthy young workforces by imposing more financial burden on them without necessarily increasing overall health care quality. Efficiency of health care regulation itself is also important. The complexities of the health care system and regulation, though might have created jobs, brings many costs and burdens. Maybe now is a good time to simplify the health care system instead of putting more complicated rules on it.

Government has the responsibility to fix market inefficiency but should do it only in a way that boosts the free market instead of hampering it. Although health care has characteristics that deviates it from functioning free market like, there is the possibility to change this by setting up a right incentive mechanism for consumers, intermediaries, and providers; and this is the job government should take.

Advice for Out-of-State Students at U of M

July 13th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Of these students sitting up front at the Big House, chances are most of them are from Michigan (Photo courtesy of the Toledo Blade)

Of these students sitting up front at the Big House, chances are most of them are from Michigan (Photo courtesy of the Toledo Blade)

Not surprisingly, the University of Michigan has a massive amount of students from Michigan. After all, it’s a state school. Sometimes us out-of-state students can feel left out or are “out of the loop” when it comes to the many things in-state students know and do.

The first thing you’ll notice, especially if your roommate is from Michigan, is that they have a lot of friends at the University when you likely have zero. During the first few weeks, your in-state roommate will hang out plenty with their friends from high school and you may feel left out. But don’t worry, come week three your roommate will most likely forget about their high school pals and look to branch out. If this isn’t the case, I recommend joining a student group on campus. It’s probably the easiest way to make new friends with people who are interested in the same thing as you.
Whenever you meet anyone from Michigan and ask where they’re from, they’ll proceed to make a mitten shape with their hand and point to their respective hometowns. Just tell them you’re not from Michigan and you have no idea what they’re saying and they’ll instead just tell you how far they live from Ann Arbor.

After all the excitement of the first month or two of school wears off, chances are your in-state roommates will make a trip home for a weekend. That’s when most out-of-state students begin to feel homesick and yearn for some home cooking. Just stick to your fellow out-of-state friends during these times and make them your family. If you’re lucky, your friends may even invite you home for the weekend.

In the end, the University of Michigan is a school for both in-state and out-of-state students. You’ll can develop friendships with kids from California all the way to Thailand. The geographic diversity at Michigan is one of its signature characteristics, and remember to always take pride in where you’re from!

Immigration Crossfire – what should be done about our uninvited neighbors

May 1st, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Obama Immigration

President Obama discussed immigration last week in Washington, D.C.

Imagine, for a moment, that it is the weekend, and you are hosting a party at your house. All your friends are there, people are enjoying themselves, and everything is going well. You look across the room, to a group of your neighbors. You don’t know your neighbors very well, and didn’t invite them to your party, but it appears they have decided to come anyway. In fact, these uninvited neighbors have have been present for quite a while. Now you are faced with a question of what to do with them. Throw them out, or not? It is perfectly within your rights to throw them into the cold, but you would risk looking like a bit of a jerk in front of your friends. On the other hand, these people weren’t invited in the first place.

 
What should be done about the uninvited neighbors?

 
It is exactly this question that Congress and the President are currently trying to answer. It’s about time the issue of illegal immigration is addressed. With 11 million people currently in a state of limbo of being in the United States, but technically supposed to be outside, it makes sense for the government to fix this inconsistency and decide whether the law or the immigrants’ location should change. In essence, there are two possible courses of action: let them stay, or make them go; amnesty, or deportation.

 
Forcing America’s undocumented immigrants to leave the country is one option, but not necessarily the best one. It is comparable to throwing out your uninvited neighbors from your party, but unlike your party dilemma, very costly. Tracking down millions of illegal immigrants is like finding Waldo in a candy cane factory. Doing so would be an enormous drain on America’s resources and manpower. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Kumar Kibble, it costs the government $12,500 to deport a single illegal immigrant, adding up to a cost of $137.5 billion to deport 11 million people. This isn’t even taking into account the lost manpower the country would see with the loss of millions of undocumented workers. Surely there must be a better use for the United States’ resources.

 
In addition to being expensive, sending away America’s undocumented immigrants is not very nice. With the exception of being present in the United States, undocumented immigrants are a law-abiding, hardworking group of people. Many of them have been in the United States for many years, and thus have established significant roots in the country. Tearing them away from their communities would really be cruel.
Considering the cost and cruelness of deporting America’s 11 million illegal immigrants, it is dubious that the measure could ever become politically popular.  Maybe letting America’s illegal immigrants stay is a better option.

 
Amnesty would finally clear up the question of what to do with the millions of people in the country, that technically shouldn’t be, without being a drain on America’s resources, and without wrecking people’s lives. It would also make it easier for the immigrants to pay taxes. The immigrants are already in the country, so worries about their effect on the country are not an issue.

 
Some would fear that giving amnesty to illegal immigrants would send a message that the United States won’t enforce its immigration laws, and attract too many immigrants to the country. However, unless the United States is prepared to send millions of illegal immigrants away instead, a doubtful prospect, then not granting amnesty would effectively send the same message. Either way, the same group of people gets to live and work in the United States.

 
So let’s officially allow our friendly neighbors to stay, and let the party proceed.

Dining Halls in need of a new approach

May 1st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Students can't be exactly sure where their dining hall food comes from, but they still pay a pretty penny to consume it

Students can’t be exactly sure where their dining hall food comes from, but they still pay a pretty penny to consume it

Dining in the University of Michigan residence halls is an experience that leaves many students left with feelings of uncertainty and occasional bloating. The truth behind how your food is cooked, recycled and unpackaged is something many students are questioning. What is wrong with our dining halls? It certainly doesn’t feel like we are getting what we pay for.

 
When you swipe your card into the dining hall you are taking a gamble, regardless of whether you know what is on the menu or not. It’s a game of hit or miss. It isn’t surprising that the dorm food pumps out a steady supply of pizza in every dining hall. It’s a safe guard. It’s Mary Sue’s insurance policy on any food failures. No matter what’s being served, there’s always pizza.

 
If the pizza does not raise your suspicions, think about some of the weekly entree titles like “Grandma’s meatloaf” and “Rhonda’s Rib’s.” Who’s Rhonda? And where did she learn how to cook? I can’t help but picture a rugged woman with calloused hands and sweat dripping down her brown as she vigorously rubs barbeque sauce onto racks of gristly ribs.

 
Other days they offer various Casseroles that are often followed by the word “Surprise.” The last thing I want in my dining hall experience is a surprise. Not that there is any surprise to it anyways. A beef casserole following beef taco day is no doubt the same meat that has simply been recycled. What’s worse is that they try to serve it up to us like it’s a brand new dish. I find that insulting. As if I didn’t know that this is the same meat that I ate yesterday!

 

North quad dining hall
Students who’ve worked behind the counter know what it’s like to work behind the closed doors to the kitchen. Steve Barchenski, a sophomore, feels that the dinning halls need to “work on the quality of service.” He says that the workers and students included don’t put in the effort, even if it just a minimum wage position.

 
“You do have to give them [full time employees] credit though, I wouldn’t want to feed us [the students] everyday either.” Okay so it isn’t the best job in the world, and maybe the students aren’t the most enjoyable “customers,” but that is no excuse for the regular appearance of hair in most of the dishes.

 
Everyone has heard the phrase, “you get what you pay for,” but rarely do students think about what there money is really buying when it comes to dorm food. It’s easy to swipe a card and gain access to all you can eat food, but when broken down to a meal-by-meal expense, students with a 125-meal plan pay $12.75 per swipe, breakfast lunch and dinner. That’s pretty stiff for just a plate of scrambled eggs and hash browns.

 
Perhaps, the dining hall should change its approach. Instead of striving to kick out stellar meals of swordfish and complex dishes from around the world, maybe they should just stick to what they’re good at. Even the fruit looks like it’s been dumped off the back of truck after a 3-day drive from Mexico, most of the bananas are either so green you need a small hatchet to peel them or else they have turned into brown elongated sacs of greasy mush. The few things the dining halls do well: cereal, bagels, cookies, salads, ice cream, and waffles. Okay so maybe you couldn’t live off cereal and bagels for the rest of the year, but it would be better than forking through your food searching for something edible. It’s time that the dining halls step up their game. Students are ready to start spending less time pondering their digestive system and more time in the library.

$60M South Quad renovations to transform outdated dorm into one of campus’ best places to live

April 28th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

south quad renovations courtney sacco annarborcom
Currently old and outdated, South Quad will receive a $60 million facelift in May

Currently old and outdated, South Quad will receive a $60 million facelift in May (Courtney Sacco, AnnArbor.com)

Housing options both on and off campus have gotten noticeably more lavish with each passing year. While high-rise luxury apartments are sprouting up in groves, new dormitory renovations are steadily upping the appeal of university housing. As part of an eight-year, $440 million renovating spree, Alice Lloyd recently received a $56 million update, and a $116 million overhaul of East Quad is in the works.

 
Following this trend, the University has recently approved a $60 million renovation of South Quad. The main purpose of this renovation is to consolidate campus dining on central campus—similar to how the Mosher Jordan renovation consolidated dining on the Hill. Following this, the dining halls in both Betsy Barbour and West Quad will be closed. To accommodate more diners, South Quad will increase its seating capacity from 650 students to 950 students. West Quad will later receive a $114.5 million renovation, which will include supplanting its current cafeteria with community spaces. In this way, it will be somewhat similar to Alice Lloyd, in that it will be replete with modern community spaces instead of a dining hall.

 
The University seems to be focusing on creating more community spaces, as South Quad’s renovations will not include any dorm room renovations—the entire $60 million will be allocated to creating community spaces, a new dining hall, new bathrooms, and other infrastructural improvements (all changes will be confined to the first two floors). Community spaces will include music practice rooms, a game room, study rooms, and new bathrooms.

 
Built in 1950, South Quad has not received a renovation of any sort since the 1990’s, when windows, elevators, and other subtleties were rehabilitated.  Now, however, we are seeing a fervent push towards improving UM’s overall housing experience. Since taking office in 2002, President Mary Sue Coleman has noted this initiative is one of her top accomplishments.

 
South Quad’s new dining hall will be unique, as it will adapt open, varied seating, and “micro-restaurants” in lieu of a more traditional college cafeteria layout. According to architect Christopher Purdy, “They’re really focused on a variety of food options, they’re focused on very high quality food, they’re focused on social space, and they’re focused on fresh and healthy options. That input really drove the design concept for the dining space, which focuses on micro-restaurants so it’s not a large, traditional dining hall.”

 
As a two-year South Quad resident, sophomore Adam Litt offered his thoughts on South Quad’s current state, and the benefits of the renovations. “I think that the dorm is fine as it is now. In both years at South Quad, I haven’t had a problem. I don’t think that anything is particularly wrong, but improvements can definitely be made. I like the dining hall as it is, but you often hear that people are going to eat at the newer dining halls like North Quad and Mojo.”

 
While all of these renovations certainly come at a pretty penny, they are ultimately a necessity. Updated living arrangements are not only a part of general upkeep, but they also attract new students.

A look at early graduation

April 1st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Michigan music school seniors celebrate their graduation in May 2011

Michigan music school seniors celebrate their graduation in May 2011

There is something about universities that inspires a certain passion in students. You may have noticed this at the University of Michigan. Well into old age, former U-M students continue to donate money to a school they attended in their youth. Anybody that has been within a mile radius of the Big House on Football Saturday knows that current and former students’ passion for the University of Michigan rouses otherwise normal people into exhibiting some extraordinary behaviors, covering themselves in maize and blue in ever more creative ways.

 

However, despite the school spirit present on campus, some students are leaving, degrees in hand, a semester, or even a full year early. Readers of this publication likely do not need to be reminded of the amount of tuition savings early graduation offers. “I’m graduating early because I can do so, and it will save a semesters worth of tuition,” said LSA junior Kylie Hosken, who plans on graduating a semester early. Timothy Dodd, director of the Newnan LSA Academic Advising Center, said “The most common reason [for early graduation] I hear among students is to save their parents a semester or year of tuition,” In addition, graduating early saves students and parents from additional interest payments on loans, giving students the time to earn, on average, roughly the same amount of money they would have otherwise spent in tuition. There are three ways to earn credits fast in order to graduate early: transfer them from high school, take heavy course loads during the school term, or take spring and summer courses.

 

LSA junior Kylie Hosken, who plans on graduating a semester early, said, “I just took the most amount of classes I could each semester and some of my credits overlapped between majors and minors.” Among the students that Dodd has advised on early graduation, “all had some AP and/or IB credit and almost all took a few semesters of 17 or 18 credits,” said Dodd. However, spring and summer courses are not as popular. “If the reason behind graduating early was financial, then registering for spring or summer classes would undercut the savings a bit,” said Dodd. Very few undergraduates at U-M, however, take less than four years to graduate. Although many freshmen enter Michigan with several credits from AP, IB, A-level, or other tests, “students who might mention the possibility of graduating a semester or two early often change their mind and remain for the full four years,” said Dodd.

 

There are multiple reasons for this. Students who hope to graduate early in order to begin studying for a graduate degree early usually find “that graduate and professional schools aren’t all that interested in admitting intellectually immature 20 or 21-year olds,” said Dodd. Many “see senior year as the time to conduct thesis research, or add a minor, or conclude a second major, or take classes and graduate with their friends” said Dodd. Also, Dodd observed, “Those coming in with boatloads of AP credit often come from families that have incomes that permit them to indulge their sons’ and daughters’ desire to stay for four years.” Although some students choose to graduate early for the time and money it spares them, it appears the traditional four-year degree will remain the tradition.

Reflections on the 2012 Election from the President of the College Republicans at the University of Michigan

November 28th, 2012 § 261 comments § permalink

America was fundamentally transformed on November 6, 2012—and not in a good way. November 6 was a call to action for Americans across the country. It was a referendum—either an affirmation or denial of the policies of the past four years. Needless to say we, as Americans, failed epically.

 

Are you truly better off than you were four years ago? Ask a college student graduating with mounds of debt and no prospects for a professional level job. Ask a small business owner who has barely scraped by and now will either lay off employees or cut hours in order to pay for the tax increases imposed on him or her on January 1, 2013.

 

Is this the kind of America we want? On November 7, the day after President Obama was re-elected, the stock market crashed over 300 points. It dropped more than 100 points the day after that. Investors—the people who build this country (and yes, they do build it)—see the writing on the wall. Unfortunately, we as Americans, do not.

 

Our debt rose over $5 trillion since Obama took office in 2009. Our credit rating was downgraded. The largest tax increase in American history—Obamacare—was imposed upon us. We dragged ourselves into two additional wars (and remember this man won a Nobel Peace Prize). Our freedoms have been under attack. I am less than inclined to think this is us moving forward– unless, of course, you mean forward off a fiscal cliff.

 

As the leader of the College Republicans on campus, I sincerely apologize Republicans did not do a better job of proving that the conservative way of fixing these impending issues is the right way. 60% of college students chose Obama—believing he would be the best at getting them a job, when his policies have done nothing but prove otherwise. We should have been able to capitalize on his record, but we couldn’t. We needed to capture the youth vote, but we didn’t. Sadly, if President Obama’s policies do not change, our situation will be substantially worse four years from now than it is today.

 

A government cannot keep throwing money at problems. Eventually, someone has to foot the bill. Regrettably, the burden falls on us. It is not our parents’ and grandparents’ generations that will be burdened. They made the mess. We will be forced to clean it up, or we will be a nation gone under.

 

Abraham Lincoln once said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” This quote applies especially today. If we continue to choose to enslave ourselves in reckless policies and out-of-control spending, then we willingly consent to giving away our freedoms. A government big enough to give us everything is big enough to single-handedly take it away. We need to awaken and change our attitudes before it is too late.

 

Moving on after Hurricane Sandy

November 18th, 2012 § 553 comments § permalink

Editors Note: Emily Mills, a current Michigan student, hails from Chatham, NJ.

I remember in the days leading up to Sandy’s landfall endlessly refreshing weather.com to find out whether or not my parents were going to be all right, and whether the house’s new paint job was going to survive. Information on individual communities and weather conditions was scarce, besides a consistent 100% chance of rain all across the board. And, considering my community in New Jersey was notorious for its power outages at the slightest gust of wind, I knew that any text from my parents would likely be the last I’d hear from them in awhile.

Sure enough, my parents lived without power for two weeks, with their only relief being occasional trips out to the local library to warm up and wait in line to use the public dial-up computers (the nostalgia of the dial-up sounds was, perhaps, the first to go).  While a house without electricity can be fun to some extent – my parents began to crack after a week of reading ghost stories and living in candlelight. The house became increasingly depressing, and the ability to travel became difficult with the gas shortages. My live-in grandparents’ idiosyncrasies turned into personal offenses, and my parents battled vehemently on who got the last piece of chocolate before the supply ran out.

While they knew things would eventually be all right, waking up every morning to a 46-degree house eventually took its toll. Pretty soon, the entire neighborhood looked closer to a scene from Lord of the Flies, than a New Jersey suburb. Even my mother was driven into a screaming match with a neighbor over whether one of the hundreds of branches on their lawn came from one of our trees or their own.

When the power finally came back on Election Day, my parents cried out of relief and proceeded to crank up the heat to the point where even Al Gore would be ashamed. But, while Hurricane Sandy was over (at least personally) for my parents, they knew that other houses and communities were still in need of reconstruction and repair. Many communities across the coast lost access to clean water, and many others were subject to fires and rampant flooding.  Some houses in the neighborhood have either sustained incredible damage, or have lost their homes entirely, and yet others remain without power.

Repairing the East Coast from the havoc that Hurricane Sandy has wrought will take time, and we are still a long way away from life returning back to normal.  But, the process has at least begun.