Letters to the Editor

Published October 2, 2008

Stem cell debate should start with sympathy

With all the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research, a lot of discussion has come up recently regarding the ballot initiative this November.November. The initiative would remove many restrictions on embryonic stem cell research in Michigan.

Above all, stem cell research is not about economics, religion or the advancement of science. It is about our mothers, fathers, relatives and friends suffering from diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, heart disease and other diseases. These people are the focus of this letter, and they ought to be the focus of our thoughts.

Before even thinking about embryonic stem cell research, think about these people. If these people are your family or friends, you understand. If not, go out and spend time with them. You don’t have to be preparing for medical school or building your résumé to volunteer at a hospital, elderly care center or any disease-related volunteer service.

Then, once we interact and understand the people who live with these diseases every second of every day, we can start talking about embryonic stem cell research. We can only then ask ourselves if the potential to treat and cure these millions of people is worth sacrificing a 5-day old, microscopic embryo left over from an in vitro fertilization clinic that is going to be thrown away anyway? Personally, I think it’s a noble sacrifice.

A friend of mine, Kathleen Russell, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, told me recently, “The science isn’t enough. People need to get to know the people with the diseases. It is time-consuming, inconvenient and often uncomfortable, but very meaningful and necessary.” I couldn’t agree more.

Sure, stem cell research will improve Michigan’s economy. Yes, stem cell research is an important scientific phenomenon. But, above all, I will vote yes on Proposal 2 for the suffering citizens of Michigan and the United States who deserve the hopeful research that is currently outlawed in Michigan.

Landon Krantz
The letter writer is the president of the University's chapter of the Student Society for Stem Cell Research.

On stem cells, we should ‘err on side of life’

The recent Daily article about a panel discussion praising the potential of stem cell research (With proposal on ballot, praise for stem cell research, 09/22/2008) made me wonder if people, scientists and public alike, truly realize the implications of embryonic stem cell research. It fazes me that people at an institution like the University would be so confused. The basic question in the stem cell debate is: What is the unborn?

There are intelligent, rational people who disagree on when life begins. If we're not sure, shouldn't we give the embryo the benefit of the doubt that it is alive? If a construction worker is about to demolish a building but isn't sure whether it's empty, does he go ahead and do it? No. He checks to make sure it's safe. At the very least, we should make absolutely certain that the embryo is not alive. Until then, we must err on the side of life and assume that the embryo is in fact a living thing, human being and person.

Destroying a living thing is the only issue here. Is it right to intentionally take the life of an innocent human being? That human person, given the chance, will develop and grow and eventually be born. The embryo looks exactly as it is supposed to at that stage in development, and that is exactly how all of our own lives began. Embryonic stem cell research, while perhaps having good motives, takes away the right of that embryo to live.

To date, embryonic stem cell research has led to zero cures, while adult stem cell research has led to at least 70. Although there may be a chance that embryonic stem cell research will yield cures in the future, the ends do not justify the means. We shouldn't experiment on human beings in the mere hopes that something may come of it. Adult stem cells can be manipulated to generalize into different stem cell lines. There is a lot of potential for adult stem cell research, and we must concentrate our efforts on extending that research to continue to find cures and advance technologies.

Adult stem cell research should be supported. Embryonic stem cell research must never be supported. Vote no on Proposal 2.

Lea Wojciechowski
LSA junior

American foreign policy has destabilized Somalia

Ibrahim Kakwan's column Thursday (Unnecessary interference, 10/02/1008) shed light on a topic most students have never heard before: the war in Somalia. Though the the United States doesn't have boots on the ground in Mogadishu, the war in Somalia has been the United States' third ongoing war since late 2005. I expect some people believe the Union of Islamic Courts is a "terrorist group" and think Kakwan is unpatriotic for supporting this group. However, those people have swallowed the United States' line on Somalia and are horribly wrong.

The UIC evolved after 1991 out of the anarchy in southern Somalia. The "transitional federal government" in power at the time was a joke, so the country was ruled by warlords. In this environment, the UIC began policing efforts and provided basic government services like education and health care. It gradually formed itself into a krytocracy and formed a military to protect its people from the warlords. With widespread popular support from the heavily Muslim population in Somalia, the UIC began reclaiming Somalia from anarchy.

In 2005, the warlords formed the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, an Ethiopian mafia with a name that guaranteed U.S. support. And support it we did. The Central Intelligence Agency pumped the group full of money like it supported Carlos Castillo Armas in Guatemala. And the UIC still won.

I shall leave you to notice the obvious. In November 2006, the people of Somalia had a government. In December 2006, the United States had Ethiopia invade Somalia. Today, Somalia is the Iraq of Africa, breeding the next generation of terrorists.

Evan Macy
Engineering junior

Comparison of dining systems raises questions

I was greatly disappointed to discover how far behind the University’s dining system was in comparison to others around the country, as made evident by the recent Statement article about the new Hill Dining Center (Catch-up cuisine, 09/17/2008). The fact that Bowdoin College delivers an exquisite dining experience wasn’t hard to swallow, nor was the fact that Virginia Tech students receive a significant discount on purchases at commercial eateries. What was more disappointing was that not only do students at Virginia Tech and Georgia receive incredible service; they do so at nearly half the price, which makes you wonder, “What’s Michigan doing with my extra $600 to $1000?”

If only the questions stopped there. Apparently, the University is falling behind in other areas as well. For the first time in many years U.S. News & World Report ranked our school out of the top 25. While rankings like this don’t necessarily mean much, what they show is a change in the way recruiters, companies and other important organizations perceive the University. Not only does our image suffer, but, increasingly so, our pocketbooks do too; the University of Michigan has been consistently ranked as one of the most expensive out-of-state universities and has an in-state tuition cost that deters students as well.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to live with these realities, and a need to finger-point has inevitably grown stronger. My resentment of University President Mary Sue Coleman is growing as well. And while I realize she can’t bear all the University’s burdens, I ask the Daily to prove me wrong — prove to me that reduction in state funding or some other actor is responsible for our troubles. There should be no way that one of the highest-paid public university presidents in the country can be at fault.

Charlie Bao
LSA freshman