As summer draws to a close, students are forced to let go of carefree attitudes and return to an academic mindset. Students who spent the summer working, interning or just playing in the sun must now return to the daily grind of lectures, recitations and lengthy papers written on the fly the night before they’re due. But it’s been quite a busy summer from the news media’s perspective. So we at The Michigan Daily thought we’d spare you the chore of reviewing the archives by catching you up on the summer’s biggest stories and drawing your attention to some stories to watch as they develop.

The summer’s most worrisome national headline was the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In April, a BP oil rig exploded, leaving an underwater well open to spill hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf each day for months. Though the well was capped and covered in cement in July, the Gulf is still a mess of oil that BP has pledged to clean up.

Some things have changed little over the summer. Though President Barack Obama declared an official end to combat operations in Iraq last week, our nation’s military presence in Iraq is far from over. And the economy — both across the nation and here in Michigan — is still pretty awful.

Close to home, the news has been preoccupied with the approaching November elections. August primary elections placed Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, a Democrat, against Republican Rick Snyder, an Ann Arbor businessman, in the running to be Michigan’s next governor. The race promises to be contentious. Neither candidate is particularly well-known. And though Michigan typically votes blue, the state of the economy during Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm’s term may lead voters to check Snyder’s name on the ballot.

Here in Ann Arbor, the August primary elections almost always indicate the winner of the November ballot— Democratic candidates rarely face Republican challengers. True to form, Mayor John Heiftje will retain his job after defeating challenger Patricia Lesko in the Democratic primary. And only one seat on the City Council has a Republican contender.

At the University, it was announced this summer that the campus-wide smoking ban, scheduled to take full effect in July 2011, would be enforced at Michigan Stadium this season. The University also completed its investigation of allegations of NCAA rules violations and awaits the decision of the NCAA Committee on Infractions regarding the University’s self-imposed sanctions.

And the University’s Board of Regents has, as usual, again raised tuition. The 1.5-percent increase for in-state students and 3-percent increase for out-of-state students constituted the lowest increase University students and their families have seen in years. The regents’ vote, unusually, was not unanimous. Two regents out of the eight that sit on the board voted against the increase. But these facts are cold comfort to students who struggle to pay ever-increasing and unreasonable tuition.

In other areas, there is no certainty. Football fans anxiously debate the state of the Michigan football team. Students wait to see if Chris Armstrong, president of the Michigan Student Assembly, can lead his party, MForward, to make MSA relevant and useful again after years of scandal and disaster.

Over the course of the semester, the Daily will track the progress of these and other topics, providing you with accurate, honest news coverage and thoughtful editorials. But your opinion matters, too. Express your opinion in letters to the editor and viewpoints. The Daily’s opinion page is a place for discussion, but that only works if students speak up. 

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