To the Daily:

Hope not lost for Big House commencement

As a graduating senior, I am upset about the decision to move our commencement to Rynearson Stadium at Eastern Michigan University. I did not work hard for four years to graduate with my friends on another school’s campus. It’s an absolute outrage that this option was even considered. Frankly, I did not spend $20,000 each year to graduate from the University on EMU’s campus. If I wanted to graduate on EMU’s campus, I would have gone to school there.

Furthermore, holding the commencement ceremony at Rynearson Stadium is a major inconvenience. Parking is not readily available there, and the stadium seats less than one-third the amount of people that the Big House does. How is that any kind of solution? I would rather have my graduation somewhere on our campus with fewer guests than invite up to eight people to watch me graduate at a university I did not attend.

In order to have commencement at the Big House, portable restrooms could be brought in, a generator could provide the necessary electricity and handicapped seating could be made available on the turf with people needing these accommodations entering through the tunnels. I am insulted by this decision, which was made for the class of 2008 without consultation. I feel that this decision downplays the importance of higher education, graduation and University pride. I am graduating from the University of Michigan, and I want to do so at the University of Michigan.

Angie Pargoff
LSA senior

Inconvenience of walk could dissuade smokers

I read with interest the story last week about the proposed University Village apartment complex that could force shops to move or even close, including the revered Village Corner (Stores brace for construction, 01/08/2008). I was considering the changes this would bring to the neighborhood with some concern until I read the comment from the owner of Champions Party Store and Laundromat, which would be forced to temporarily move during construction. He complained that, “It inconveniences customers … if a customer wants to buy a pack of cigarettes [during construction], he’s got to walk four blocks.”

That got me thinking that maybe the construction wouldn’t be so bad. It would have the unintended benefit of helping smokers who would like to quit but have a hard time overcoming their addiction. Surveys show that the vast majority of people who smoke would like to stop. The evidence is clear that sometimes all it takes is some new inconvenience – consider the proven impact of smoking bans in public places on reducing consumption – to help smokers get over the hump.

Who would have thought that the construction of the new apartment complex could actually save lives?

Cliff Douglas
The letter writer is the executive director of the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network and an adjunct lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Whining of graduating students unwarranted

Kudos to the Eastern Michigan University students who are putting University of Michigan seniors in their place. The hand-wringing that has played out in recent letters to the editor is laughable at best. The letter writers seem to feel that the University owes them a graduation in the Big House. Hogwash. These students paid the University for an education, and I have no doubt that the University has upheld its end of that bargain. I don’t remember seeing any “Big House graduation clause” in my acceptance letter.

Also, students should take it easy on using the phrase “rich and well-known alumni” (‘U’ abandons tradition, 01/11/2008). Students might have forgotten this, but it is these donations that allow many campus facilities and programs to remain world-class. And here’s a free tip for all graduating seniors: Calling luxury boxes “classist” (Family will miss first and only trip to Big House, 01/11/2008) is exactly the type of melodramatic rhetoric that would have anyone outside of a college campus snicker.

Michael Saltsman
LSA alum

Graduation ceremony ultimately unimportant

I know what it is like to graduate off campus and away from tradition. Due to construction efforts and limited parking, my graduating class at Lee M. Thurston High School in Redford, Mich. could not graduate in our courtyard and walk across our humble outdoor stage as so many classes had before us. Despite protests, petitions and threats, the ceremony was instead held indoors at Detroit World Outreach, a giant church center. The hall was gorgeous, and we had a memorable ceremony, but it was not home.

Like the University’s present dilemma, tickets would have been limited – four per family – had graduation been held in the courtyard. With ample room at the new building, there was no limit on those in attendance. Needless to say, we would have rather had the limited tickets.

I was saddened to not be able to celebrate my high school graduation following tradition. However, in the greater scheme of things, life goes on. I will be graduating in a few short years, and I envision doing so on our campus – our Big House. I completely support keeping graduation on campus, now and always, but the class of 2008 should consider the big picture. Remember that life goes on. Commencement is not an end; it is a beginning.

Jimmy Tomczak
LSA sophomore

Absent Sudoku missed

Where was the Sudoku Monday? The false advertising that there was one inside was unnecessarily cruel.

Kristen Tebo
Rackham

Poor administration to blame for poor planning

As the parents of a graduating University student, we find the recent news of the University’s graduation ceremony plans extremely disconcerting. To suggest decorating Rynearson Stadium at Eastern Michigan University with maize-and-blue banners as a replacement for a University ceremony is laughable.

The thought that any responsible University official sanctioned this Potemkin village suggests an administration incapable of reasoned thought processes. If these plans go forward, we ask that the University please forward us a refund of the difference between the cost of an Eastern Michigan University and University of Michigan education.

Julie and Jim Shannon
Tawas City, Mich.

Poor administration to blame for poor planning

As I was reading the B-Side in Thursday’s Daily, I came across the article about Chinese street performers (What Ann Arbor is missing, 01/10/2008) and was rather irritated. In typical “Is there nothing we can’t learn from the East?” style, Ben VanWagoner fondly remembered three blind musicians and a troupe of little girls doing gymnastics in the streets of Wuhan, China and presented them as indicators of how accessible art is to the masses in China. The article goes on to assert that art in America “is becoming the realm of the educated” and wealthy, because access to art exhibitions and performances usually requires entrance fees. At the end, the author even called the streets of Ann Arbor “grimy and loud.”

I’d like to remind the author of several things about China. Art is certainly teeming in the streets of Shanghai and Beijing, namely in the form of bootlegged foreign films and counterfeit fashions. More importantly, why were these talented performers on the street in Wuhan and not in a state-sponsored theater? Or better yet, these performers could have been in one of the thousands of rural villages largely ignored by Chinese leadership until it needs cheap laborers or conscripts. And why were those little girl acrobats, who supposedly represent the egalitarian access to art of an enlightened social state, not in school?

Let’s not kid ourselves; modern China is not a paragon of free expression. The artistic establishment in capitalist countries like ours is not perfect: It’s plagued by unfair compensation and a lack of funding. But don’t mistake Wuhan’s abundant street performers for a failure of our own society.

Adam Ajlouni
LSA junior

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