Correction appended: LSA sophomore Blase Kearney was misidentified as an alum in today’s letter to the editor.

Wal-Mart’s labor strategies model less than ideal behavior

To the Daily:

In his column, John Stiglich remarks that “through the years, other retail giants from Target to Best Buy have copied Wal-Mart’s business plan and implemented many of its labor strategies” (The Bank of Wal-Mart, 01/17/2007). I don’t ever remember Best Buy locking immigrants in the stores overnight, or forcing the government to shoulder $1.5 billion in healthcare costs for its full-time employees.

Blase Kearney
LSA sophomore

Daily’s advice to ‘U’ attempt to thwart will of Michigan voters

To the Daily:

I found the editorial board’s call for University officials to beat a dead horse on Proposal 2 to be disgusting and disturbing (From the Daily: Worth Fighting For, 01/17/2007). The editorial board is encouraging poor citizenship; the message that resonates through the piece is that should things in our democracy not go the way we want, we should complain and undermine the will of the electorate. Not only does the Daily’s editorial board show a lack of respect for Michigan voters, but it also shows a lack of respect for our legal system by referring to the federal judges who have told the University to comply with the law as “clueless.”

In insinuating that the elimination of racial and gender preferences will spell destruction for the University’s academic atmosphere and reputation, the editorial board demonstrates its lack of touch with reality. How is it that the University of California at Berkeley has maintained academic prominence over the past 10 years without race- and gender-based affirmative action, consistently ranking ahead of our university?

This University is a creation of the state of Michigan and the voters of this state. Should it insist on thwarting the will of Michigan’s voters when the voters have every right to revoke their funding of this institution?

And why should the voters of this state feel any remorse when they pull the plug? Countless graduates of this institution abandon the state every year and flock to other states, taking with them earning potential that Michigan voters helped them acquire. The ungrateful people who attend this university and who wrote that editorial and the administrators who appease them deserve a reality slap.

Andrew Gaber
LSA junior

Admissions decisions should make up for K-12 segregation

To the Daily:

I’m surprised to hear the ways University President Mary Sue Coleman and the admissions office are exploring to remedy the implications of Proposal 2 (From the Daily: Worth Fighting For, 01/17/2007). The University seems to be overlooking some obvious and powerful solutions that could be effected within the restrictions of Proposal 2.

For example, a major reason why black and Hispanic students are underrepresented on campus is segregation in Michigan’s K-12 system. In 2003’s Grutter v. Bollinger case, an expert testified that in Michigan some 83 percent of the black students are educated in “minority schools” and 64 percent of all black students in Michigan are educated in extremely segregated schools.

One solution would be to designate segregated minority schools as such and award applicants from those schools an advantage in the application process. The benefit could even be tiered according to how segregated the school is. This system would provide a counter-blast to admissions criteria that specifically disadvantage minority applicants, like the SAT, legacy factor, the school factor (which favors students from more challenging high schools).

I’m not suggesting that these policies are a complete solution, but they would certainly help. I wonder, has the Diversity Blueprints taskforce considered these options?

Adam de Angeli
Alum

Willingness-to-pay system offers post-Prop 2 solutions

To the Daily:

I would like to suggest that the University’s Diversity Blueprints Taskforce carefully examine two existing University programs that have each increased diversity on campus. These programs appear successful and have not been legally contested.

The first model is Parking Operations, which has diversified a program that once only offered parking permits and metered spaces to staff and commuters into a multi-faceted system offering various parking and transport options. These options are tiered by the permit purchaser’s willingness to pay for select parking locations. The system separates the willingly affluent from the thrifty.

The second successful diversifying program has been instituted by the Athletic Department. The priority seating program has diversified spectator seating at Michigan Stadium by allotting points for multiple factors and linking these points to a “voluntary” Victors Club membership program that alone has eight classifications – again determined by one’s willingness to pay.

Using the successful models of diversifying campus parking and seating for athletic events, could we not just add a new admissions criteria, “willingness to pay”?

A multi-tiered tuition schedule could be established using peer institutions for guidelines, so the top level of tuition could be substantially increased, by which the rates for some lower levels would decrease. Just as the stadium and parking areas have been divided into price-controlled sections, the incoming class should be divided into sections, and the tuition to be paid for acceptance into that section adjusted appropriately. All applicants would be required to complete the usual financial aid forms and eligibility for applying for certain sections would be limited to certain income ranges. When a given section reaches capacity, wait lists would be utilized.

If the parking and seating programs have worked for the University community, it seems that designing a willingness-to-pay program for only 5,000 incoming first-year students should be a no-brainer. Am I wrong?

J. Downs Herold
Alum

Nostalgic view of Vietnam-era activism neglects reality

To the Daily:

Whitney Dibo’s column (Out from under the ’60s shadow, 01/18/2007) is the latest in what seems like a series of pieces urging a return to the level of campus activism of the Vietnam era. But when liberals romanticize the Vietnam era as one of pure intellectualism and social justice on campus, they make the same mistake as conservatives who romanticize the 1950s as a time of universal happiness and strong moral values. Psychologists studying the matter have shown that the primary motivator of anti-war activists was the government’s authority to send them to war, not some humanistic compassion for the people of South Vietnam. Although some undoubtedly did care about other issues, most merely used them as an excuse to oppose a war they didn’t want to fight in.

As soon as our parents were no longer of draft age, they abandoned their ideals and elected arch-conservative Ronald Reagan (a fact Dibo acknowledges). The lack of moral conviction on the part of liberals demonstrated why the protests failed. Poorer Americans, whose kids were fighting abroad, observed selfish elitists consuming psychedelic drugs and calling their children baby killers. In an attempt to reject authority, protesters ultimately rejected morality, handing it over to conservatives who claim to hold it to this day. Liberals lost the moral high ground that they’d held since the Progressive Era.

Sure, Vietnam protests were fun while they lasted, but the winners of the era were neoconservatives, the Religious Right and even George W. Bush. I’m certainly not proud of the apolitical nature of my generation: I agree with Dibo in that we should find a new way to make our voice heard. But while doing so, it is absolutely crucial that we hold the moral high ground. Let’s root this new activism in intellectual dialogue and compassion for all of humanity, not in superficial chants and selfish hedonism. If we can do that, we can accomplish something our parents never did.

Eric Kumbier
LSA sophomore

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