To the Daily:
Hull is a leader worth following
As a former representative on the Michigan Student Assembly (LSA, 2002-2003), I was very disappointed to read about MSA President Zack Yost’s recent conduct (MSA president under fire for Facebook group that mocked rep, 11/28/2007). A higher level of scrutiny comes with being the student body president at a high-profile institution such as ours, and Yost has failed that examination. Whether or not he should step down is a question I leave to him and his conscience. This is a low point in the already checkered history of our student government. Kenneth Baker is no hero either, and it is probably for the best that he stepped down (Under fire, MSA rep. resigns, 11/30/2007).
The real story here is Tim Hull. He strikes me as a leader in a group of wannabe leaders. He has served as a committee chairman and immerses himself in the laws of the body by offering amendments to the arcane Complied Code. As one who has endured the pain of reading that document, I commend Hull for his dedication to the assembly: Such dedication should not mocked on private social network groups.
I hope Hull pursues the presidency in March. Leadership is not about who belongs to the best fraternity, colors with the brightest chalk on the Diag or makes the most infeasible campaign promises to gain the support of our largely uneducated electorate. Instead, leadership is about being the person who is willing to put in the time behind the scenes to make government work. It’s about pressing forward when others around you continuously shoot you down. It’s about students like Tim Hull.
Tim, while our paths have not crossed, I salute your strong leadership and commitment to our great institution.
Third-year law student
Yost is unworthy to remain president
As someone who works in a special education program for children who have autism, Down Syndrome, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I am fully confident in how intelligent and able these children are to overcome obstacles and accomplish wonderful things in their lives. Michigan Student Assembly President Zack Yost’s creation of a crude online group mocking an MSA member with Asperger’s Syndrome not only insults his fellow assembly member but individuals everywhere with mental or physical challenges, as well as those of us who support them.
The same person who recently sent out an e-mail to unite the University student body for the Michigan-Ohio State game has been exposed for his prejudice, which can only divide others. What Yost did was stupid, disrespectful and wrong. He in no way deserves to represent the student body as our MSA president.
Substance abuse treatment is smarter
Regarding the Daily’s thoughtful editorial last week about rehabilitation services for prisoners (Locked-up logic, 11/28/2007): A study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that every additional dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers $7.48. And there is far more at stake than tax dollars.
The drug war is not the promoter of family values that some would have us believe. Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure, joblessness, addiction and delinquency. Not only do the children lose out, but so does society as a whole. Incarcerating non-violent drug offenders alongside hardened criminals is the equivalent of providing them with a taxpayer-funded education in anti-social behavior.
Turning drug users into unemployable ex-cons is a senseless waste of tax dollars. It’s time to declare peace in the failed drug war and begin treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health problem that it is. Destroying the futures of people who make unhealthy choices and their families doesn’t benefit anyone.
The letter writer is a policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy.
Michigan must defend affirmative action
In the spring of 2005, thousands of Latino youth across the country walked out against the racist legislation HR 4437 and gave birth to a new civil rights movement demanding an end to second-class treatment for all immigrants. This new movement inspired others across the country to make a real fight against racism and discrimination. More recently, young people in Jena, La. made a conscious decision to take a stand against the racism in their community.
Michigan has been at the forefront in the fight to defend affirmative action. But philanthropy and private scholarships are not a proper response to the drop in underrepresented minority student enrollment in colleges. Initiatives in other states similar to Michigan’s Proposal 2 have proven that there is no substitute for affirmative action if we want true integration in higher education.
BAMN and other civil rights groups have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Proposal 2. We will not allow an illegitimate initiative placed on the ballot through documented voter fraud and deception to undermine the gains of the civil rights movement and turn the Fourteenth Amendment and Civil Rights Act of 1965 on their heads. There is no question as to whether affirmative action will be restored in Michigan. The question is how soon.
The University administration must publicly state and act on the fact that minority and women students have as equal a right to attend the University as their white and male counterparts. Students at the University must join the growing mass movement against second-class treatment and demand that the University reverse the drop in minority enrollment and fight the hostile climate on campus by ensuring the ban on affirmative action does not stand.
The letter writer is co-chair of the University chapter of BAMN.
‘U’ should fight hunger in Ann Arbor
According to a recent story in The Ann Arbor News, “Local food banks and charities are reporting a rising demand for food . The numbers (of families who need food) are going up and the resources really aren’t.” Many students do not realize that more people than ever in Ann Arbor are currently hungry, unable to even enjoy a meal at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
I joined several University students recently to form a group called Homelessness – Awareness to Action to fight homelessness in our community. We proposed to donate the extra food in the campus cafeterias to a local food bank instead of throwing it away, which is what the cafeteria admittedly does with much of the leftover food.
As we see it, there is a major problem here. There are many hungry people in our community, and the University could do more to help solve the problem. Other universities have found effective methods to do their part to help feed the homeless people in their communities. Stanford University, for example, has an organization called SPOONS that has been successful in donating food on a weekly basis. We believe that the University of Michigan should implement a similar project.
The many arms of the firearms debate
Gun rights are not human rights. The right to keep and bear arms is a privilege of being an American citizen. Firearms are banned in many developed nations, and those nations generally do not suffer as a result. Growing up in a community where gun ownership is a norm and having guns of my own, I realize certain important things:
Firearms may give a person a greater sense of security, but this should not be conflated with the idea that they are necessary for one’s protection. Also, guns are dangerous and accidents can happen. This is why every gun owner should be a responsible gun owner so as to prevent accidents or allowing their firearms to fall into more dangerous hands.
As with all rights, gun ownership is not an obligation. Like the right to vote, we are given the option to possess firearms. If you choose not to take advantage of this right, so be it. The right to own firearms is a privilege that should be respected by both sides of the argument.
Harwood Rowland II