To the Daily:
Does it surprise anyone that as Michigan Student Assembly elections get underway, another scandal involving the assembly has emerged (Pres. draws fire for Facebook group, 11/28/2007)? The news comes after yet another representative – who still serves on the assembly, by the way – was charged with a felony for tampering with another student government party’s campaign website during the elections in March of 2006. Those of us who have been students at the University for a few years can still remember the unexpected $20,000 bath MSA took in bringing Ludacris to Ann Arbor. In short, incidents such as these bring disgrace to our student government and, by extension, the University.

Campus deserves better than MSA’s shenanigans

One might be tempted to wonder why those poor kids standing out in the cold Diag trying to hand out their campaign flyers want to join this group. MSA may do great things for students – though the value of building miniature golf holes on North Campus can be debated – but the actions of a few can permanently damage the organization’s reputation and mission. The University and its students deserve much better than what we have received from MSA, and we must demand better leadership and more accountability from our student government.

Robert Schanski
LSA senior

MSA president has failed the student body

To the Daily:
Zack Yost must resign from his post as president of the Michigan Student Assembly. As a student, it is completely within my rights to expect those who are representing me in MSA to do so in a mature and respectful manner. Creating a Facebook.com group to attack a fellow assembly member is neither of these – it’s mean and spiteful. The thought that the MSA president sank to such a low level should have us all incensed.

Yost needs to resign because he has proven he lacks the ability to lead MSA in an adult matter. Petty attacks on fellow assembly members are not acceptable, and seeing such behavior will destroy the faith that average students should hold in those who represent them. It’s time for Yost to leave before he further degrades the integrity of student government.

David Azzolini
LSA junior

Yost’s ignorance is appalling; he must quit

To the Daily:
I do not want Zack Yost to be my Michigan Student Assembly president anymore. I remember his campaign vividly and chose to vote for him. However, now I feel he has betrayed my trust by humiliating another member of the same council that makes decisions for the benefit of my education (Pres. draws fire for Facebook group, 11/28/2007).

Tim Hull was elected in the same way as the rest of the members of MSA, but for some reason the president of the assembly does not value his contributions. He would rather be on Facebook than listen to Hull’s proposals. If Yost was so bold to suggest a real solution to the volume of Hull’s code revisions, instead of attacking him behind his back, we might not be in this situation.

I will no longer support a man so eager to deny another man’s rights and aspirations of trying to make a difference. I’m asking that something be done to change Yost’s status as MSA president and that there should be plenty of coverage about it. Yost’s remarks about disabilities ought to be the main reason for him stepping down. I urge him to look past whatever predispositions he may have and learn a little bit more about what he’s saying.

Emmett DeLateur
LSA junior

Transgender people must make themselves heard

To the Daily:
This is in response to a letter from Cayden Mak regarding the Daily’s failure to do its part for awareness (Daily fails to do its part for awareness, 11/26/2007). This letter irritated me to no end. I’m sorry Cayden that Transgender Day of Remembrance was just not as big a deal to other students as it was for you. It’s great that the day exists and that you are proud to celebrate it. But being mad just because the Daily didn’t mention it sounds like a desperate cry for attention.

It’s not the Daily’s job to get your message out there: That’s your job. Do you think Veterans Day would be such a big deal if veterans from across the country didn’t join together and spread the message of their sacrifice? If you want Transgender Day of Remembrance awareness, get out there and spread the word and don’t get mad if others don’t do it for you.

Mak said, “The lack of coverage sends a clear message: The group’s struggles are just not important enough.” That’s wrong; those struggles are important, so get on the Diag like countless other student groups and pass the information along a couple days ahead of time. I walk right through there every day,. and I didn’t see anything from people advocating awareness of transgender issues.

The Daily is a college paper and has limited space. Don’t get mad because it did not cover your issue. The real problem is that you didn’t raise enough awareness to get your issues covered.

Ted Byrne
LSA sophomore

Statements about the church are uncalled for

To the Daily:
When I opened this week’s issue of The Statement, I was dismayed to find outright falsehoods regarding the Roman Catholic Church (The editor’s notebook with Gary Graca, 11/ 28/2007). An item essentially asserts that the Catholic Church opposes all stem cell research, and U.S. Catholic bishops issued a statement condemning the achievement of reprogramming skin cells to act akin to pluripotent stem cells.

Following this assertion, Graca proceeds to mock the viewpoint of the church. In direct contrast to what was printed, Cardinal Justin Rigali of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a press release saying “I am grateful today for scientists who took up the challenge of finding morally acceptable ways to pursue stem cell research, and for government leaders who have encouraged and funded such avenues.”

I understand that the nature of this section of The Statement is satirical, but I believe that this story is malicious rather than funny. The Daily certainly has not lived up to the commitment to fairness that its editor in chief committed to in the public editor’s column last week (Daily’s liberal bias?, 11/20/2007). The Catholic Church has made repeated statements supporting non-embryonic stem cell research, and it certainly does not believe that “cloned robot cell armies (will) march to Heaven to kill God.” I find it tremendously disappointing that the Daily would stoop to mockery and misrepresentation while revealing its own ignorance of the church’s position.

Michelle Harrison
LSA sophomore

Daily is sensationalizing student assembly issue

To the Daily:
The Daily was handed a ready-to-serve controversy when Michigan Student Assembly Rep. Kenneth Baker sounded the alarm on an insulting Facebook group created by MSA President Zack Yost (Pres. draws fire for Facebook group, 11/28/2007). While the Facebook group is reprehensible on many levels, it is an issue between Yost and Tim Hull that must be resolved behind closed doors.

There is a far bigger and more disturbing issue here. In featuring this canned controversy on the front page, the Daily has reached a new low. In place of reporting relevant news that pertains to the campus at large, the Daily resorted to outing Yost for the sake of humiliation. Baker used Hull as a pawn to attack Yost. This was disgraceful and vindictive – a disgusting game of politics that has no place in MSA. The Daily has indirectly done the same thing by giving this embarrassment of a story center stage.

The Daily owes Yost, Hull, and the campus at large an apology for its role in this debacle.

Eric Rosenbloom
LSA junior

All viewpoints must be protected to further debate

To the Daily:
It was the fundamental right of free speech that allowed prominent Zionist Theodore Herzl to advocate his controversial view of a sovereign Jewish state as a solution to anti-Semitism. If not for free speech, Herzl would have been silenced and his solution would never have gained much support. Today, as the University of Michigan Press continues to face criticism for its distribution of the controversial book “Overcoming Zionism” by Joel Kovel, it has done the right thing in not wavering and keeping its contract with the book’s publisher, Pluto Press.

The University Press’s website states that it “publish(es) books that contribute to public understanding and dialogue about contemporary ‘political issues.’ ” An “understanding” of the issue can have many meanings to many people. There is bias in every historical narrative due to the selection and presentation of facts or the connotation and word choice of the author. Different viewpoints are inevitable and should not cause revocation of the distribution contract. What we accept as history is just the mainstream point of view. For example, a popular contemporary view casts Christopher Columbus as bringing hardship to the Native Americans rather than celebrating him as the discoverer of the Americas. Kovel’s view may be biased, but it is not irrelevant.

Kovel’s book also advances the second goal of the University Press, which is to contribute to the dialogue of issues. There have been several positive and negative reactions to his book, but more than discussing the right of free speech, Kovel provokes arguments on his theory of a single-state solution. The two-state solution is broadly accepted and may be the most likely outcome of any peace process, but challenging this majority viewpoint can help with evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of such a plan.

While I personally may object to Kovel’s solution, I need to be open to other views to develop a greater understanding of their position. Only through greater understanding can each side develop an idea of the minimum conciliation needed to forge a lasting peace. There are many positive contributions this book makes to the political discussion.

A legitimate concern is the anti-Semitism that this book is said to contain and promote. This is important to consider, because the vast majority of readers may not challenge Kovel’s ideas or seek other viewpoints on this subject. To overcome this concern while ensuring the right of free speech, the University Press should distribute this book with an addendum containing a disclaimer stating that the neutrality of the book is questioned and that the reader should also refer to other sources to get the full story.

Tom Payne
LSA sophomore

More thoughtful debate on stem cells is needed

To the Daily:
In an editorial printed in Tuesday’s Daily, the editorial board contended that Michigan should join in the stem cell research industry (A moral imperative, 11/27/2007). But most of the editorial centered on the actual embryonic stem cell debate. While I do advocate embryonic stem cell research, I believe that the Daily’s argument for it doesn’t address the issue appropriately.

To any reader who believes embryonic stem cells are living entities, the editorial is irrational. Using its logic, inmates on death row, like embryos, should be experimented on because, after all, they’re going to die anyway. Further, the Daily’s argument ignores the issue of whether or not in-vitro fertilization (the process that results in excess embryos) is moral itself. Should scientists be playing God and creating excess embryos?

While I do agree with embryonic stem cell research, I don’t feel that the Daily’s argument is satisfactory or effective, especially if used in a debate against pro-life advocates.

Ian Rust
LSA freshman

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