Nostalgic activists should go out and do something

To the Daily:
In her column last Thursday (Out from under the ’60s shadow, 01/18/2007), Whitney Dibo bemoaned the “pathetic” efforts of campus groups voicing student opposition to the war. To be honest, I’m sick of hearing about all this supposed political apathy on campus. This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I marched with hundreds of others in a rally organized by BAMN in defense of affirmative action. During the march, I was approached by a Daily reporter who asked me to comment on student apathy. He had to shout to be heard over the spirited slogans being proclaimed by students in defense of civil rights.

When we grow accustomed to complaining about the impotence of our generation, we can become blind to what is going on around us. If you want a more active campus, go out and start something.

Alex Smith
LSA senior

Textbook prices can’t come down unless students get involved

To the Daily:
As the Daily’s editorial board acknowledged, the Campus Issues Forum on Textbooks last week was indeed “a formidable starting point” in tackling the issue of rising textbook prices (From the Daily: Well-read but broke, 01/16/2006). Bringing together University faculty and administration as well as local business, the event allowed for a thorough discussion of this enormously complex problem. Both the Michigan Student Assembly and LSA Student Government are committed to fighting this cause on behalf of the campus community.

Textbook prices depend on everyone from professors to publishers. Sometimes professors release textbook lists very late, preventing students from escaping the campus monopoly by purchasing their materials from online or off-campus retailers. But local bookstores, while easy to target, are also caught in a vicious cycle. Karl Pohrt, the owner of Shaman Drum, said that the store earns less than five cents on each dollar. Then there are the publishers who often needlessly print new editions of textbooks, forcing businesses and students to buy those instead of cheaper, used editions. This has amounted to a massive industry, one that now has revenues upwards of $8 billion a year. Yet, to be fair, textbooks are expensive to produce – not only for the actual book itself but also the figures, charts and copyrighted information it contains.

Last term, the University created a Textbooks Task Force, an investigative body of both faculty and students. This collaboration is a good start, and we must sustain this effort. From a business perspective, Pohrt expressed great interest in working with student government in reforming textbook policy. MSA and LSA-SG are ready to explore this opportunity, in addition to working with University administration to finally set sound guidelines for the distribution of course materials.

Student government is ready to spearhead the fight to lower textbook prices. MSA and LSA-SG have the necessary resources and contacts, but we need your participation as students to lobby the administration and faculty in the search for new solutions. As articulated at the forum, professors do listen to their students but don’t always know of what we want. For instance, ctools.umich.edu is a great way to post course materials and this practice should be further encouraged. The pressure to implement these solutions must come from us students. Funnel your frustrations of high textbook prices into something productive. Get involved. We encourage you to join student government, talk to your representatives and help us in this long-term struggle to lower textbook prices.

Eric Li, Max Nowak, Lisa Rukavina
Li is an LSA junior and chair of MSA’s Budget Priorities Committee. Nowak is an LSA sophomore and chair of MSA’s Academic Affairs Commission. Rukavina is an LSA senior and a member of LSA-SG.

Students must be active for campus activist groups to thrive

To the Daily:
Why must the ’60s era be a shadow? Why must we flee from its ideals as if it were a fad that faded into disuse? The ’60s were a period of dreams and action. The nation went from segregation to integration. They ended an insane war that was fought for insane reasons. People cared about the world that they would leave to their children. We seem to take their gift for granted.

Whitney Dibo’s column (Out from under the ’60s shadow, 01/18/2007), expressed a clear feeling that our generation should have our own unique movement for social change. I agree. But we can’t just trash what previous generations created and try to build something completely new. The ’60s were not some fad that can just go out of style. Can a dream go out of style? Peter, Paul and Mary were just trying to show you that beautiful energy is still alive.

As John Lennon once said: “The thing the ’60s did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all have. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.” They created an energy of peace and love and a dream that a better world is possible. We too have that dream, we too have that energy, somewhere deep down inside of all of us, inherited from that time. Now we must take that energy – that dream – and mold our struggle from it. The ’60s showed us what we are capable of. Now we must go and do it. Anti-war Action has been working to do this, but we need your help.

Yousef Rabhi
LSA freshman

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