BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published September 2, 2013
This summer was an especially busy one for the University, Ann Arbor and the state of Michigan. Returning to school can become quite stressful when you're unaware of the recent changes to University policy and Michigan law. This editorial will help fill you in on all of the changes you've missed over the past four months, and what we’d like to see happen in the near future.
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This past July, the University’s Board of Regents voted to expand in-state tuition eligibility to many of Michigan’s undocumented students, marking the end to a student-led campaign for tuition equality. Beginning in January 2014, undocumented residents in the state may qualify for the lower resident tuition prices, provided they can meet new residency requirements. While this historic decision may now make enrollment to the University possible for the state’s undocumented population, legal hurdles hinder the new policy’s impact. Undocumented students are currently ineligible for state and federal financial aid. Considering the average undocumented family earns $27,000 annually — roughly the cost of attendance for one year at the University — the broadening of in-state tuition is not enough. If the University intends to promote a more economically diverse campus, administration must push state and federal officials to widen financial-aid options — regardless of where someone was born.
In August’s primary election for Ann Arbor City Council, both Ward 3 and 4 were up for reelection. Incumbent Democrat Stephen Kunselman was reelected in Ward 3, and Jack Eaton beat out Marcia Higgins in Ward 4. Both Kunselman and Eaton suggested that Ann Arbor and the University should have a better relationship with each other — a talking point that’s often brought up but rarely acted upon. A break in this pattern is necessary come November’s election. For instance, Kunselman said the University and the city need to work together more efficiently in terms of security. Better communication between the University Police and the city’s law enforcement can help prevent crime on campus. Even certain improvements in the city, such as increased street lighting, may promote both student and resident safety. The council has a history of seeing the University as a separate concern from city matters; this year, we hope to see a shift in this mindset.
Last Tuesday, the battle for Medicaid expansion finally came to a close (for now) in Michigan, with the state Senate reluctantly approving the expansion, which is a critical mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Supported by Gov. Rick Snyder, the proposal will add roughly more than 400,000 Michigan residents to the low-income health insurance plan. The expansion has been supported by numerous organizations, including the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and the Small Business Association of Michigan. These groups, like Snyder, have advocated the positive fiscal impact of expanding health care. Unfortunately, the conservative-dominated state legislature’s drawn-out debate over Medicaid was divided more on party lines rather than the bill’s flaws or merits. The ideological divide nearly prevented Michigan’s uninsured from gaining coverage — an embarrassment that even the Republican governor recognized. The legislature should follow the governor's example more often.