Debunking myths on tuition and GEO

To the Daily:

While walking through the Diag today, I noticed a flyer titled “Coming Soon: Higher Tuition. Thanks, GEO.” The flyer went on to make misleading statements about the graduate student instructors’ compensation at the University and blamed the Graduate Employees’ Organization and its “outrageous” demands for rising tuition. I would like to dispel the misleading “facts” on the flyer.

The flyer claims that members of GEO currently receive $13,977 per semester. Unfortunately, that number is for a full-time appointment. Ninety-four percent of GSIs have a half-time appointment or less, meaning that they make half of what the flyer claims. According to the University, the median half-time GSI salary is currently $15,199 for eight months, not per semester. The flyer goes on to claim that in the new contract, GSIs will make $17,395 per semester. Again, this figure is for a full-time appointment, and is only for the final year of the new contract.

The anonymous creator of the flyer insinuates that the benefits in the new GEO contract will cause higher tuition costs. Patrick O’Mahen already wrote an excellent letter to the editor addressing these concerns (Fairly paid GSIs and reasonable tuition aren’t mutually exclusive, 03/03/2008). Suffice to say, GSI salaries account for less than 2 percent of the University’s general fund, and tuition has increased at a much faster rate than GSI salaries. GEO is not to blame for increased tuition.

I encourage students to voice their concerns about the rising cost of education, but posting misleading flyers wrongly blaming GEO is neither an honest nor particularly useful tactic.

Kristin Lewis
Rackham

Abstinence advocacy threatens freedoms

To the Daily:

In response to the story yesterday about abstinence advocacy at the University (Abstinence push missing from ‘U’, 04/02/2008), there’s a reason we don’t have an abstinence club on campus. Besides being biologically ridiculous, abstinence is injurious to a wide number of people on campus.

Because of its emphasis on marriage, abstinence promotes a heterosexual norm that excludes gay participants and indirectly derides same-sex relationships.

Furthermore, abstinence reinforces the idea that women in particular cannot control their bodies or their sexuality. Abstinence implies that only male marriage partners have the ability to instruct women in their sexual lives. Lastly, for those of us who do not believe in marriage for political reasons, or choose to remain single, abstinence does not agree with our beliefs or our lifestyles.

We are sexual beings. We were all born with the physical capability to act in a sexual manner, and most of us are biologically capable of deriving pleasure from sexual activity. Like anything else, sexuality can be expressed in a socially acceptable, safe manner. Instead of inflicting guilt or denying information to students, it is far more desirable for a university community to embrace a sexually responsible attitude.

I, for one, am pleased that we have the sexual freedom that we do, and I believe further that an abstinence group on campus would threaten this freedom.

KT Lowe
LSA senior

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