State’s budget is indeed good for higher education

To the Daily:

I wish to respond to the editorial entitled Budget Crunch: Large
funding cuts will hurt students and state (7/21/03).

As the Michigan Student Assembly’s external relations chair, I
have worked extensively with other schools throughout the state of
Michigan to lobby on behalf of the University’s students. While I
agree that the new budget will hurt Michigan students, it is
inevitable that any budget in our current economic situation would
have such an effect. I would like to address two of the major
points in the editorial, funding discrepancies and the Merit
Scholarship.

While it is definitely true that Grand Valley State University
will fare better this year than other universities, it is important
to understand recent history. Last year GVSU received less than
$3,000 per student, while the University received approximately
$9,000 per student. While one can argue a difference in educational
quality between the schools, GVSU and Saginaw Valley State were the
only schools to fall below $4,000. When the Association of Michigan
Universities, a lobbying body consisting of student government
officers of the 15 public universities, met this past year, one of
our priorities was equalizing the discrepancies in state funding. I
truly believe that the state’s creation of a $3,850 per student
floor funding is a positive step in advancing education throughout
the state of Michigan.

With regards to the Merit Scholarship, it has been shown that
students from more affluent areas will do better on the exam, that
is not in dispute at all. In fact, the governor’s proposed Michigan
Opportunity Scholarship program was designed to move some of the
Merit money toward financially needy students. However, your own
article applauds the legislature for not supporting this program as
it is heavily biased toward private school students. Additionally,
this past fall Proposal 4 was a ballot measure that would have
taken the Merit money and given it to hospitals and health care.
The citizens of Michigan overwhelming voted against this idea, and
supported the students of higher education. The state needs a
merit-based incentive for students to keep her highest-achieving
students in the state. Whether the Michigan Educational Assessment
Program test is the most appropriate way to gauge students, well,
that is another issue.

The final budget definitely supports students more than anyone
could have predicted 8 months ago, and I personally am very pleased
to learn that tuition will only increase 6.5 percent, as opposed to
the rumors of 10 to 15 percent that circulated last winter.

Bobby Counihan

Engineering senior

The letter writer is the external relations chair of the
Michigan Student Assembly and an MSA representative from the
College of Engineering.

No evidence U.S. government wants to ‘Christianize’
Iraqis

To the Daily:

In Ari Paul’s latest article, he brought up concerns that
American missionaries might be given carte blanche by the U.S.
government. While these might be valid concerns, such a fear has no
historical precedent. Although the United States is a religious
nation, spreading religion has never been the agenda of the
government. Only one such incident, as I can recall, was President
William McKinley’s letter after the the Philippines had been won
from Spain during the Spanish-American War. In that letter, he
wrote that it was the duty to “Christianize” the native peoples
(even though they had already been reached by Spanish
missionaries).

Despite this, it was the premise of the U.S. government, not
propagating religion, that attracted the Chinese to deal in trade
with the Americans during the latter years of the Qing dynasty. The
British, French, Italian and Dutch had, at times, influence in the
imperial court through missionary ties and the Americans had no
interest in doing this.

In conclusion, I find Paul’s apprehensions, while valid, to be
slightly unfounded. I don’t believe the U.S. government has any
agenda to spread religion. The only challenge I foresee is making
sure the Iraqis see the mission of the American government and the
mission of American missionaries as distinct and separate.

Rahman Woods

Alumnus

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