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February03 (Feb. 18-22)



Friday, April 30, 2004

Vote for a U of M student in the declare yourself tour:


Please support the only U of M student finalist Jamie-Clare Flaherty, for the yahoo declare yourself campaign! If Jamie wins, she will be able to interview Kerry and Bush in the fall!! This is extremely important; right now she has fallen to 3rd place. It would be a shame if one of our own students missed this awesome opportunity!

cut and paste this link to vote for Jamie:

*******YOU CAN VOTE MORE THAN ONCE !!!!!**************

Thank you for your time and help, it is undoubtedly appreciated! "

Posted by Rob at 5:28 PM

The Grand Opening of Amer Zahr's bar OZ is tonight. Open until 4 AM, the newly expanded Hookah Bar now serves beer, wine, a full bar, and a variety of sandwiches, pitas, and middle eastern desserts. Entrance to the 5,000+ square foot club is 21+, and there is no admittance after 2 AM, although if you've already arrived guests can stay for the official after party until closing. Tonight a belly dancer is scheduled to perform at 11 PM.

Zahr is perhaps best known as a Palestinian activist and author of a controversial column for the Michigan Daily is completing a masters in middle eastern studies and a law degree.

Posted by Rob at 5:23 PM

Friendster, Friendster Everywhere

Fan of Friendster? A similar service with more features that support online communities which works much more quickly is Orkut. A similar website targeting a number of elite universities is, not to mention the "facebook" feature of

Also, a student column in the student newspaper at UMass Amherst alleging a U.S. solder who died in Afghanistan shouldn't be considered a "Hero" has caused the president to issue a formal rebuttal:

" ... UMass president Jack Wilson issued a statement saying Rene Gonzalez' comments in The Daily Collegian "are a disgusting, arrogant and intellectually immature attack on a human being who died in service to his country. ... "

Unfortunately for free speech, the website of the Collegian is "unavailable" do to high traffic.

Posted by Rob at 1:34 AM

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Articles of note from the Ann Arbor News:

> "High-rise city is envisioned"
> "Kerry touts plan to save jobs," and "City sees hoopla of campaign"
> See also Freep "Kerry brings message to Ann Arbor"

Also, next year's Michigan Journalism Fellows have been named, and the group includes Alden Bourne, a producer at 60 Minutes, and senior CNN producer Maria Fleet.

And four Transportation Security Administration screeners have been charged with stealing from luggage at Detroit Metro Airport.

Posted by Rob at 3:31 PM

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

More Kerry Details:

" ... It's a pleasure to let you know that you can join many of us in noisily welcoming Senator John Kerry to Ann Arbor, this Wednesday (April 28) shortly after lunchtime. We will gather at 12:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the former Bill Knapps restaurant, at the corner of Carpenter Road and Washtenaw (half a block toward Ypsilanti, just east of highway 23). The Kerry campaign bus will pause there as he enters Ann Arbor, before it takes him to his 2 p.m.(?) speech at Washtenaw Community College, half a mile to the east.

The auditorium at the College has limited seating, so admission is primarily by invitation; thus we can't guarantee admission to the speech. Please join us in the Bill Knapps parking lot! There is sure be media coverage; please wear your Kerry shirts, caps, and buttons. (We will have at least a dozen large and extra large Kerry photo T-shirts -- red, or navy blue, $10 each -- available in the Knapps parking lot starting at 12:30. T-shirts can of course be pulled on over other clothing.) Bring an umbrella (and a folding chair if you wish; campaign travel time schedules are always somewhat

There will be another opportunity to greet Senator Kerry, and show our support for him, when he departs from WILLOW RUN AIRPORT (please note: NOT Detroit Metro!). We will gather at Willow Run Airport at 5 p.m.; again, wear your Kerry gear, and as you arrive look for the Kerry signs. (As you drive east on 94 you'll see signs for Willow Run Airport; be in the left lane to leave 94.)"

Posted by Rob at 11:01 AM

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

John Kerry in Ann Arbor Tomorrow

Although it's unclear whether the event is open to the public, this recently came across the AP wire:

" Details of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's Wednesday visit to Ann Arbor:

--What: John Kerry's "Jobs First Express" bus tour, which started Monday in West Virginia and wraps up Wednesday in Michigan after stops in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

--Where: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor.

--Events: Tour of Washtenaw Community College Technical Industrial Building, 1:30 p.m.; speech on campus, 2:30 p.m.

--Quote: "I believe that manufacturing should not and must not be a part of America's distant past," Kerry said Tuesday in Youngstown, Ohio."

> See also AP: "Kerry , Bush emphasizing jobs in Michigan"

Posted by Rob at 9:07 PM

A New York University student who couldn't afford housing lived in the basement of the library - for eight months.

Posted by Rob at 9:02 PM

From a comment posted below:

" ... However, I feel so strongly that the fate of this great nation, and indeed even the modern world as we know it, hinges solely on this election, that I felt compelled to put my thoughts to word. And those thoughts are...

John Kerry is a douchebag, but I'm voting for him anyway. Well, not really. That is to say, he's not actually a douchebag, or not nearly as much of one as what the media, George W., and even perhaps John Kerry himself have made him out to be. It seemed that every time I saw, heard, or read something about Kerry, his doucheness factor increased. It wasn't until I did just a little research on my own that it became clear that most of these occurrences could be explained as lies, deception, media excess, or simply poor campaigning strategy. It is beyond vital that we all overlook these minor blemishes and unpleasantries, and unite in electing John Kerry to be the next president of the United States of America."

> From

Posted by Rob at 5:02 PM

Articles of note from the Ann Arbor News:

> U-M, AATA work on free ridership deal
> U-M to replace Mott Hospital
> What does it take to be a 'cool city?
> Book festival could be start of something big

And this:

" 'M' flag stolen from rooftop at U-M

A large University of Michigan flag was swiped from the top of the Michigan Union, according to the U-M Department of Public Safety. The theft was discovered Monday morning. It appeared that someone got to the large block "M" flag from the rooftop off the sixth floor of the union, reports said. No suspects have been identified."
(Police beat)

Also, the weather forecast for this Saturday, according to the National Weather Service: 40-60 degrees, with a 60% chance of thunderstorms. Here's the "incliment weather plan" from the Graduation Information website:

"Inclement Weather Plan

Given the size of Spring Commencement, it is logistically infeasible to move this ceremony to an alternate location while maintaining its University-wide, inclusive focus.

Spring Commencement will occur in Michigan Stadium regardless of the weather. While umbrellas are not encouraged, they are not barred in the stadium if it is raining. We ask individuals using umbrellas inside the stadium to be respectful of those around them.

The ceremony also will be shown on video screens in Crisler Arena. Because seating capacity in the arena is limited, students will receive only two general admission tickets for this option.

In the event of severe weather (such as a thunderstorm or tornado watch or warning), the order of exercises will be appropriately shortened while still maintaining essential elements such as the conferring of degrees on the undergraduates. Pre-recorded music will be substituted for the commencement band in the event of rain.

Commencement organizers ask for your understanding in the event that this inclement weather plan needs to be implemented. "

Posted by Rob at 4:51 PM

Monday, April 26, 2004

U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator John Kerry will be in the Ann Arbor area this Wednesday, April 28 when he speaks at Washtenaw Community College at 1:00 p.m.

NOTE: I just learned this event is NOT open to the public, but if you would like to attend I would suggest contacting your local Democratic party.

Posted by Rob at 4:57 PM

I'm in the center, a little bit to the left in this photo.

Posted by Rob at 5:15 AM

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Ann Arbor Police Chief Dan Oates recently used the emergency lights on a patrol car - to get to the airport to catch a flight.

Posted by Rob at 2:52 PM

Friday, April 23, 2004

A friend of mine who attends Carleton College has helped create an interest house themed after the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone. In an email to friends:

"... I want to update you on a project I've been working on a lot this year. A group of 14 interested people and I proposed a new interest house to Carleton's Residential Life board and it has been approved! The house will begin next year and is called The Wellstone House of Organization and Activism or WHOA. For those of you familiar with Carleton, it will be located in what was CANOE house (Which is moving to a larger space). We will be bringing in speakers, holding and to traveling to events that pertain to social justice, globalization, and conflict resolution. The house will not really have a Wellstone theme, so much as looking to him as an inspiration of how academians can aspire to integrate their work with the good of the community. ... "

Posted by Rob at 9:27 PM

My friend Sam Woll recently told me about a national controversy that seemed worth commenting on. In brief, here's what happened:

A white male columnist for the Oregon State University's daily student newspaper The Barometer named David Williams wrote a column published April 9th titled "A message from a white male to the African American community," which basically alleged he thought "African Americans have not made the leaps and bounds necessary to close racial disparity gaps," because of a lack of positive role models, pointing out R. Kelly and O.J. Simpson as flawed celebrities the black community erroneously chose to support:

"It's not the fact that black people are doing bad things that hurt them collectively as a group. White people do terrible things. Hispanics do terrible things. Koreans do terrible things. People do terrible things.

My point, however, is this: There is a lack of morality in the black community because African American leaders, whether Jesse Jackson or the NAACP, choose to rally around minorities who seem to have little quality characteristics about them.

Why don't black leaders call out people like Allen Iverson and Sammy Sosa and say, "Hey, there are millions of young African Americans who worship you; why don't you start showing up for work on time and stop putting cork in your bat?"

Sure, that's contrite and overly simplistic and there are bad apples in more than just athletics, but you get the point.
In summation, I think blacks should be more careful in deciding whom they choose to support. They need to grow beyond the automatic reaction of defending someone because he or she shares the same skin color and is in a dilemma...."

After sparking some letters and a full-fledged demonstration in response, Williams was fired by the newspaper, which then ran an editorial apologizing:

"On Friday, April 9, The Daily Barometer published a column by staff columnist David Williams that was racially insensitive and inappropriate.

We apologize to everyone for printing the column.

While the opinions expressed in columns are not representative of the staff members of the Barometer, we have a policy never to print material that is discriminatory, racist or sexist.

By printing such material in the Barometer, we legitimize the messages, even if we don't agree. ... "

Activists have since held a public forum with the newspaper's editors to discuss the event. However, it doesn't end there. It turns out Mr. Williams column was extremely similar to a column penned by a Pulitzer Prize winning African-American columnist for the Miami Herald, Leonard Pitts Jr., who recently wrote a column about the dispute saying that Williams should not have been fired titled "Ignorance and Racism is not the same":

" ... My piece dealt with African America's support for singer and accused child pornographer R. Kelly. I argued that black folk reflexively defend those among us who transgress out of a sense of shared identity. An understandable impulse, I said, but often a counterproductive one.

Williams, his language sometimes echoing uncomfortably close to mine, used my observations to make a less nuanced point and reach a far different conclusion. While careful to concede that no group has a monopoly on poor behavior, he said that support for the likes of Kelly demonstrates a ''lack of morality'' among black people.


For the record: I don't know that I'd call Williams a racist -- or a plagiarist, though he comes near both. He's definitely guilty of cockamamie reasoning and blithe self-righteousness.
So rather than getting fired -- a relatively easy out -- I wish Williams had been required to sit down and discuss what he said with the people he said it about. He might have learned something. As it is, he will probably only learn to feel sorry for himself."

Here's a longer piece about the whole incident from the local newspaper: "Barometer rising"

I'm not sure I know whether or not Williams should have been fired, however I think there are several things to be learned here. To start, I suspect the controversy was made worse because columnists have an unclear position in the paper. Letters to the editor usually have the lowest level of scrutiny - they are printed as space allows with a minimum of editorial oversight. At the other end, the newspaper's staff editorials are the official opinion of the paper and determined through discussion and voting, and the staff are clearly responsible for their content. However, both columns and op-ed pieces ("viewpoints" in the Daily, for example) seem to fall somewhere in between: editors reserve the right to edit columns and selected which viewpoints are printed according to their judgments. This, I think, is were the confusion comes in - the newspaper certainly is correct when they point out that by printing racist, discriminatory, and sexist material they "legitimize the messages, even if we don't agree." Should the newspaper print material which might be highly offensive? I don't think there is an easy answer to this. Ideally, newspapers should have a public ethics policy explaining what sort of writing is not allowed, and if they do in fact have to edit a column they should do it according to their policy. Part of me thinks that Mr. Pitts has a point and Williams should have not been fired, however Williams column is extremely offensive ... then again, I doubt as editor I would have hired him to begin with.

The collumn in question aside, I think the newspaper's actions after their firing of the reporter are to be commended. They seem to have encouraged a full and open discussion about the incident (reporting on people who were protesting the newspaper openly and fully) and participating in public discussion and forums about their decisions - whether it was admitting a mistake, or explaining their decision to fire Williams. In contrast, during a boycott of the Michigan Daily two years ago, the Daily gave the protesters only partial coverage well after it had begun, and only engaged in limited discussions with the protestors.

One would hope that controversies of this scale - including allegations of racism and plagiarism - can and should be avoided, but when they occur doesn't mean the newspaper is simply "doing its job," but instead something serious went wrong which should be identified and corrected.

Posted by Rob at 8:54 PM

"The University of Michigan will continue to define the great public university of the world"

President Mary Sue Coleman proposed to create a new ethics center in an address to the Regents yesterday outlining her "vision and goals" for the university, connected to the kick-off of a new capital campaign. From her remarks:

On a second front, we will continue to pursue a host of long-range ambitions as we launch the public phase of our comprehensive capital campaign next month. Private giving will animate our vision and goals, in every campus unit and collectively for the institution.

We will focus on the difference our University will make in the future ? as it has made for almost two centuries ? both on the lives of our students and in the world beyond our campuses. Appropriately, we will title the campaign "The Michigan Difference."

In addition, we must prepare young people for the problem-solving, team-based environment that they will encounter not only in the workplace, but as informed and entrepreneurial citizens in a diverse democracy.

President Angell famously described the University of Michigan as providing an "uncommon education."

I believe that the uncommon education we create in the information age must be built upon interdisciplinary scholarship and team-based learning opportunities that are supported with digital tools. ...

We must ensure access to the vast intellectual opportunity and knowledge this great public university generates ? for the sake of the societies we serve, and for the intellectual ecosystem that provides our academic distinction. A public university has little value for our society if its resources are not accessible.

This will mean asking ourselves some tough questions.

* We need to know if there are financial barriers that place a Michigan education out of reach for some academically qualified students, and how we can lower those barriers. This discussion must include a significant study of our financial aid programs ? along with an emphasis on scholarship support as a centerpiece of the upcoming capital campaign"

Although I'm glad she stressed the importance of access, let's not forget what President Angell's full quote was: "An uncommon education for the common man." I hope in her goals president Coleman doesn't lose sight of that vision of a truly public University. Here's her "vision":

" * We will sustain academic excellence
* We will foster active engagement
* We will build collaborative learning communities
* We will create greater access to Michigan?s academic quality"

> President Coleman's Address: "Shaping the Michigan Difference"
> DetNews: "U-M president plans ethics center"
> AP: "University of Michigan president unveils latest priorities"

Posted by Rob at 3:17 PM

Here's the top ten from, a fundraiser for the voter fund:

1. University of California, Berkeley $1960
2. University of Washington $1306
3. University of Texas at Austin $1224
4. University of Wisconsin-Madison $1224
5. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities $1191
6. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor $1145
7. University of California, Los Angeles $1082
8. New York University $1036
9. San Francisco State University $884
10. University of Colorado $867

Posted by Rob at 12:18 PM

THIS Saturday (April 24th) and next Sunday (May 2nd) Students in Action for Ann Arbor in Need will be collecting furniture to donate to Fairy Godparents and Community Self Sufficiency Center in Detroit. We are looking for any furniture, small appliances, laptop computers, (no clothes) in relatively good condition! Please drop the goods off at 505 E. Hoover (across from the IM building, on the corner of Sybil and Hoover) between 9 and 6. Or email furniture at us at 945-2772 for more info or to schedule a pick up within Washtenaw County.

Posted by Rob at 11:42 AM

Articles of note:

> AANews: "Michigan Festival begins with bunch of 'good chatters'"
> AANews In Brief: "U-M Naked Mile becomes non-event"
> AANews: "Tweaks to Greenbelt law urged"
> (Street closures)

A Couple Thefts:

"Ann Arbor

900 block of Greenwood Avenue, occurred from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Thursday. A laptop computer valued at $2,000 taken during house party.

1000 block of Packard Street, occurred between noon Wednesday and 7:30 a.m. Thursday. Screen pried off window to gain entry; two laptop computers valued at $3,000 taken."

Posted by Rob at 11:19 AM

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Ann Arbor resident and Arborblogger George H.'s SongBuddy website got a brief mention in today's New York Times:

" ... Alf Eaton, a life scientist in Paris, has written several programs to encourage people to create playlists ( He credits "MP3 bloggers" - aficionados who unearth MP3 links - and sites like Webjay and with "establishing a middle ground" in the war between file sharers and the music industry. "I hope that the record industry will begin to see the value in what these grass-roots enthusiasts are doing to promote their music," he said in an e-mail message. .. "

> From NYTimes: "Web Sites for Music Playlists and Baby Blogs"

Posted by Rob at 4:09 PM

Michigan native Michael Moore's new film, "Fahrenheit 911", will premier at the Cannes film festival this summer.

Posted by Rob at 3:50 PM

UMich-specific websites seem to be popping up left and right these days. I was just emailed about "," an "online facebook" for U-M and Michigan State. "You can use the site to search for other members of your school via major, class, courses, interests, and social ties." But don't get too excited: the U-M alumni association is planning on starting their InCircle networking tool next month.

Posted by Rob at 3:45 PM

LSA senior Jackie Bray will be speaking at Shaman Drum about a book she contributed to titled "How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office":

**********How To Get Stupid White Men Out of Office*************

This Monday at 7pm I will be giving a short talk and reading on the new book "HOW TO GET STUPID WHITE MEN OUT OF OFFICE" at Shaman Drum.

For those of you who don't know, I co-authored this book with about a dozen other kick ass organizers, activists and artists. It is 20 case studies of times when young people have inserted themselves into the political process and WON!

Monday, April 26th
Shaman Drum Bookshop
Me, Jackie Bray
co-author, "How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office"

The book is an easily digestable, fun and energizing guide to everything you need to know to help dump Bush come November and make the organizing mean something more than just one election.

This is about SUSTAINABLE progressive electoral organizing!!!

Monday, April 26th
Shaman Drum

Hope I see lots of you there. "

And here is perhaps the most "controversial" excerpt from the book - this from a segment written by my friend Monique Luse:

"With the Supreme Court in our future, I had no time to ponder the evils of elected government. So, when I got called into secretive meetings between folks from the University Democrats and the Blue Party who wanted to start a new party, I went. These folks knew how to get power, but they had nothing greater than themselves to use it for.

I was the only personal of color in the room, the only person who had ever lived in a working class neighborhood. I had to figure out a way to get my community into this room and rooms like it. So I swallowed my disgust and shared my visions:

* Student government has the power to make students lives better ...
* Student government should not be made up of career politicians ... You have to choose someone who is involved in her community
* Everyone deserves representation

Pretty simple, right? It was like an alarm clock drawing a teenage boy out of his wet dream. These career politicians woke up and put their masturbatory politics on hold. The Students First Party (S1) was born. ... "

Jackie ends the chapter she co-wrote like this:

"Such up your pride; ship your baggage and hope the airline loses it. You have to be real with people and talk to them. Find folks that you need to work with and figure out how you can. We will only win if we win it together."

> See my earlier post about it

Posted by Rob at 3:39 PM

Here are some more photos from the Columbia strike.

Posted by Rob at 1:09 PM

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

A few people ran the naked mile yesterday.

Posted by Rob at 11:25 PM

What's going on tomorrow at the President's house?

Student Voices in Action is having a protest on the lawn of President Mary Sue Coleman's house at 815 South University from 12 noon until 1 pm. There will be pizza.

Posted by Rob at 11:05 PM

The New York Times writes about wealthy students at college, dateline Ann Arbor:

"It's very much an issue of fundamental fairness," Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard and a former treasury secretary, said in an interview. "An important purpose of institutions like Harvard is to give everybody a shot at the American dream."

The University of Maryland recently said it would no longer ask students from families making less than $21,000 a year to take out loans, and would instead give them scholarships to cover tuition. Officials at Harvard, the University of North Carolina and the University of Virginia all recently announced similar, even more generous policies.

Over all, at the 42 most selective state universities — including the flagship campuses in California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan and New York — 40 percent of this year's freshmen come from families making more than $100,000, up from about 32 percent in 1999, according to the Higher Education Research Institute. Nationwide, fewer than 20 percent of families make that much money. ... "

> NY Times: "As Wealthy Fill Top Colleges, New Efforts to Level the Field"

Posted by Rob at 11:02 PM

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Then again, it might just be a good idea to postpone the election. (Also: "Will the 2004 Election be Called off?")

Posted by Rob at 8:38 PM

Columbia Graduate Students on Strike

"Graduate teaching assistants at Columbia University said yesterday that they would go on strike Monday morning and remain out until Columbia recognized their right to unionize, which could shut down hundreds of classes through the end of the school year.

"This is an indefinite strike; we're not going to do anything until they recognize our union," said Dermot Ryan, a fifth-year graduate student in English and comparative literature who teaches "Introduction to Contemporary Civilization," one of Columbia's core courses. "We will stay out as long as it takes."

Graduate students represent a significant portion of the teaching force at Columbia. Not only do they run small discussion sessions of large lecture courses, but they also teach more than half of the core courses that all Columbia students must take, like "Contemporary Civilization," "Literature and Humanities" and writing. ... "

> NY Times: "Pushing for Union, Columbia Grad Students Are Set to Strike"

And this:

" ... The graduate students voted on unionizing two years ago, but the votes were never counted because Columbia appealed the students' right to unionize to the National Labor Relations Board. The board said last week that it was studying the case, along with similar appeals, including one by the State University of New York.

Some protesters said that they were happy in their teaching and research jobs, and that the threat of unionization had been instrumental in Columbia's decision to raise its basic stipend to $17,000.

"When I came in, things weren't bad," said Stephen Twilley, a second-year graduate student in Italian. "But I realized that the stipend had been raised because of efforts to organize, so I have a debt to past organizers. This is our last best hope to move the university." ... "

> From NY Times: "Graduate Students Walk Out at Columbia"
> See also Columbia Spectator coverage: "Strike Begins; 400 Picket on Day One"

> Website of Graduate Students Employees United

Blog coverage:
"114th and Broadway"

Posted by Rob at 5:50 PM

More commencement speakers:

> University of Pennsylvania: U2's Bono

> Cornell University: Bill Clinton

Posted by Rob at 2:22 PM

U-M alum and former Daily reporter David Enders has returned to Baghdad to work as a journalist. Except this time, instead of starting an english-language newspaper (which he did, until it ran out of money last year), Enders is stringing for other media organizations. Including, interestingly, none other than the marijuana culture magazine High Times. Here's a bit from Enders in a teaser posted on the High Times website for his feature article titled, "Losing the Plot: Fear and Loathing in Baghdad":

"Occupied Baghdad is a lot like Detroit. You can replace "white flight" and "hollow urban core" with "We leveled heavy sanctions" and "We bombed the hell out of it," but the results are pretty much the same: lots of empty buildings, a police force you can’t trust and lots of people who take the law into their own hands. Squatters live in the bombed-out and looted ministries and government buildings. They are forced to move occasionally so troops can clear out the unexploded bombs dropped last year that they’ve known about for months but are just getting around to dealing with. ...

So a sort of Robocop future has become Baghdad’s present, as post-invasion confusion gives way to occupied hedonism. It’s the kind of situation that lends itself to the bizarre, the banal and situations so absurd that while there is no Godot in Baghdad, this is probably a pretty logical place to wait for him. (Or her.) Meanwhile, though, people have to find something to keep themselves occupied. ... "

Enders' story is part of an editorial shift over at High Times away from lush pot centerfolds (no kidding) towards something resembling serious journalism. The Washington Post has picked up the change, writing about Enders and changes in the magazine recently in a story titled "High Times At 30, Getting Its Head Together" From that story:

"Man, the news from Iraq is, like, a major bummer. Read the mainstream press and all you get is bombings, murders, uprisings, riots and hostages. Fortunately, one publication dares to print the news that won't kill your buzz.

That publication is High Times, the marijuana magazine now celebrating its 30th anniversary. And the news is this: There's plenty of weed in the new liberated Iraq.

"There are few laws in Iraq right now," writes Dave Enders, High Times's man in Baghdad, "so although drug possession was punishable by death before, you can now pass a spliff openly in front of the cops."

Which may not, come to think of it, be exactly the kind of freedom that President Bush envisioned for Iraq.

Enders, a freelancer from Michigan, covers more than just the dope scene in Baghdad. He also writes about U.S. soldiers and the nutty do-gooders who've swarmed into Iraq and about Hamid, "a 26-year-old translator/bodyguard/heavy-metal fan." Hamid was an Iraqi soldier until he deliberately shot himself in the leg to avoid fighting the Americans and now smokes weed and writes protest lyrics set to the tune of "The Wall" by Pink Floyd: "We don't need no occupation, We don't need no CPA. . . . "

"The desire to leave," Enders concludes, "is the only thing US soldiers and Iraqis have in common."

Enders's entertaining piece is a good example of High Times's new editorial policy -- less dope, more reality. High Times still covers the weed -- and runs full-color centerfolds of voluptuous pot buds -- but since January it has expanded its coverage of the rest of the world. In recent issues, High Times has published articles on prostitution, bike messengers, comedian Dave Chappelle, a Colombian guerrilla, singer Ani DiFranco, education reform and a piece on Arnold Schwarzenegger by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Gary Webb. ... "

In case you missed it, you can read more about Dave's exploits in the most recent Michigan Today, in a story he wrote about his experiences titled "Assignment: Baghdad How I started a magazine in a war zone, to avoid the post-college job market"

Posted by Rob at 1:47 PM

Articles of note:

> Daily: "Students disappointed with commencement speaker"
> Daily: "Lecturers approve agreement"
> Daily: "City hikes penalties for repeat fake ID offenders"
> Daily: "Greeks: Relations with 'U' improved"

And this letter to the editor:

Efforts to stop Naked Mile are useless

To the Daily:

It is that time of year again. Classes are winding down, finals are approaching and I’m sure the University is flooding campus with signs saying how running the Naked Mile will result in you being charged with a sex crime and how you’ll be photographed and such. The purpose of this is of course to scare people from running. It has worked, and the number of runners has decreased every year. In my opinion, this is a total misuse of University and police resources. We’re not talking about a heinous crime, but an innocent tradition at which seniors can express their happiness at finally graduating. I ran the mile last year and was not arrested — though some of my friends were caught, but were not charged with a sex crime — and did not see a single photographer. Because the police will no doubt be lining the Naked Mile route at midnight, I suggest seniors make their own route or run at a different time (11 p.m. or 1 a.m. instead of midnight.) to avoid arrest. Don’t let the University destroy another tradition.

Nicholas Kohn

Posted by Rob at 1:27 PM



Come one, come all!!! It is a FREE BBQ with Mary Sue!

This Thursday PRESIDENT COLEMAN will celebrate the end of classes by hosting a barbecue on her LAWN. The party starts at NOON and will last until the food run outs.



Posted by Rob at 1:03 PM

Campus "Leadership" Societies and Women

"In a series of events that made national headlines, the [Yale Secret Society Skull and] Bones class of 1991 eventually tapped female juniors. [...]

In 1991, after approximately eight hundred living members voted by mail, Bones narrowly endorsed the admission of women. But in early September, the day before the women were to be initiated, a faction led by patriarch William F. Buckley (1950) obtained from New Haven Superior Court Judge Donald Celotto a court order that temporarily blocked the 1991 club from initiating the nine men and six women it had tapped; as a result the ceremony was canceled. .... Bones held a second vote on October 23. More than 425 members came to the tomb and hundreds more voted by proxy; the votes tallied 368 to 320 in favor that women should be elected to the society. The women were initiated on Sunday, October 27.

Senators David Boren and John Kerry later disclosed that they voted for the admittance of women. George Bush and George W. Bush have never confessed how they voted, though George W. might have provided a clue when in 1994 he told PBS producer Lynn Novick, a woman who graduated from Yale in 1983, that Yale "went downhill since they admitted women." During his 1988 presidential campaign, George Bush admitted he was not necessarily included to let women into the society."

-- From Secrets of the Tomb, pp. 157-158.

According to the New York Times, Michigamua admitted its first women in 1999 to be members of the "Pride" of 2000. (See Robyn Meredith, "Michigan Students Protest Campus Club's Indian Relics," New York Times 13 Feburary 2000, Sec. 1, p. 18) (Reprint available here)

> Michigamua Images
> Michigamua / Phoenix Membership Page

Posted by Rob at 12:53 AM

Monday, April 19, 2004

The online competition where women students are rated for attractiveness has again returned to Michigan, although the message boards have been shut down this year. The webmasters explain: "Unfortunately, some girls, albeit a small group, have complained to us about the board, even though it is heavily regulated this year ... However, we must respect the girls that are being commented on because we are sure several of you would not like to be spoken about in such an open forum without knowing who is posting things about you."

Posted by Rob at 7:51 PM

Stephanie Ridella, a U-M freshman and South Quad resident, continues to be missing:

"Search continuing for missing student

A University of Michigan student remained missing Friday, a full week from when she was last seen in her South Quad dorm room, campus police said this morning.

University of Michigan Police issued a missing persons alert Tuesday for Stephanie Ridella, 19, of Troy, after her parents reported they hadn't spoken to her for more than three days.

Lt. Robert Neumann said investigators determined that Ridella left the area Friday, but still have not made contact with her. The disappearance is still considered voluntary as police have no evidence of foul play or criminal activity, he added.

Fliers with Ridella's picture and physical descriptions have been circulating on and off campus throughout the week. "

> Freep: "Student from Troy is missing at UM"

According to her U-M directory entry, she is a member of the following email groups: Students for Bush, The Undergraduate Classics Club, The SKiing Club, The Honors Philosophy list, and the "CollegeGOP" list.

Posted by Rob at 7:28 PM

It's been pointed out to me that the Michigan Daily seems to be having trouble with their website.

Posted by Rob at 3:01 PM

Commencement Speakers

> National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice will be the commencement speaker at Michigan State University this spring.

> Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan will speak at Harvard this year.

> The University of Michigan? You know, David E. Davis.

Posted by Rob at 12:59 PM

The Ann Arbor News covers the daffodils in the Arb, which have begun to bloom:

"Artist Susan Skarsgard dreamed up the idea, bought 20,000 daffodil bulbs and arranged for 150 volunteers to plant them.

But she said doesn't feel she completely owns the golden yellow line now in bloom for about a half mile across the main valley of the University of Michigan's Nichols Arboretum.

"I feel like I'm the steward," said Skarsgard, a resident of Ann Arbor's Old West Side. "It's a community project." ... "

> AANews: "Follow the yellow bulb road"

Have nothing to do tomorrow night? Have a drink at Leopold's and raise money for a good cause:

"Group raising money for Detroit school

A group of graduate students at the University of Michigan is holding a fund-raiser at Leopold Brothers in Ann Arbor on Tuesday night to benefit the science curriculum at Detroit Community High School.

Anybody can stop by and participate in the fund-raiser. For every mixed drink ordered between 6 and 9 p.m., Leopold Brothers will donate $1 to the fund-raiser. Likewise, for every martini, the pub will donate $2. The brew pub is located at 529 S. Main St.

The Biomedical Graduate Student Council hopes to combine the money raised by the fund-raiser with donations from companies and other sources to give more than $3,000 to the public school. It has held a fund-raiser for the past four years."
(In Brief)

Also, two donors have given $8 million to the Kelsey Museum to pay for the addition to a new wing: U Record: "$8M gift to fund new wing at Kelsey Museum"

Finally, a collaboration between the South University Area Association and the Arts at Michigan program will allow community members to decorate some of the many fire hydrants downtown. I think it's a great idea, but I'm not sure rule number seven is necissary: "7. No violence, No nudity, No words, No political messages will be accepted in the design.":

You’re invited to paint the town!!
We have 100+ fire hydrants in the
downtown area that can become beacons of art for our community.

Bring art to the people and teach the community about an artist at the same time. This project sets the tone for creativity to blaze at the street level. Sponsored by the South University Area Association and Arts at Michigan at the University of Michigan.

1. Each participating artist should choose an artist to study from any given time period.
2. The artist should create a design that reflects the chosen artist's style for the fire hydrant.
3. Fire hydrant templates can be obtained by contacting Nancy Lautenbach, 936-5805 or nancyll at
4. Each artist will be provided 2 templates so the three dimensional designs can be planned properly. You will need to create a design for front and back.
5. All artists are expected to paint on or mount an illustration to all sides of the fire hydrant template to replicate what they intend to paint on the actual fire hydrant.
6. Please be sure to write your name, artist's name, and the title on the lower section of the fire hydrant template.
7. No violence, No nudity, No words, No political messages will be accepted in the design.
8. Submission deadline: April 30.
9. Notification Date: May 3.
10. Painting of fire hydrants will take place May 4 - 14. Paint will be provided.

The committee will review all proposals for aesthetic quality, creative concept, and compliance with project guidelines.

Only the paint provided by the committee may be used on the actual fire hydrants. Other types of mediums that hinder the ability for fire fighters to open the caps may not be used. Artists may not paint a design other than what was submitted and approved. The committee reserves the right to reject and/or paint over any design that disregards these guidelines or uses inappropriate subject matter.

Creative titles are encouraged. A ceremony to recognize the artists is planned for May 15, City Clean-up Day. This is a great opportunity to expose your work to the entire community! For more information and template/application contact: Nancy Lautenbach, 936-5805 or nancyll at"

Posted by Rob at 12:50 PM

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Here's the Ann Arbor News' coverage of Saturday's Take Back the Night Rally and march:

"University of Michigan student Sarah Hews briefly scanned the story of Tamara Williams that was posted on one of several life-size cutouts on The Diag detailing the tragic events Saturday's Take Back The Night Rally was trying to prevent.

In 1997, Williams, also a U-M student, was killed when she was slashed more than 10 times by her boyfriend. Saturday's rally attracted about 300 people, including Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, in an effort to draw support for the protest against sexualized violence.

"It is important to support these things," Hews said as the rally began. "These things are what makes a difference. That's the only way change is going to happen, is if you get people involved."

Saturday was the 25th anniversary of Take Back The Night in Ann Arbor. The event included speakers, musicians and then a march around downtown.

Participants carried signs that read, "No Means No" and "Rape Is Not A Boundary Issue."

According to a fact sheet distributed at the event, one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime, every two minutes there is a sexual assault in America and 70 percent of rape and sexual assault survivors know their offender.

Yet self-described community activist Cathryn Antkowiak-Howard said budget cuts are undermining support for sexual assault survivors.

Antkowiak-Howard pointed out that Washtenaw County's Sexual Assault Crisis Center was closed last October, and U-M's Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center has announced it will no longer provide counseling or 24-hour hot line services.

She said that leaves just the private, nonprofit SAFE House for area domestic violence services.

"We've gone backwards in some ways," Antkowiak-Howard said. "For 20 some years, we had three agencies that were never at a loss for clients. Now, one will try to do the work of three." ... "

> AANews: "Protesters try to make a difference"

Posted by Rob at 11:31 PM

Saturday, April 17, 2004

The commencement speaker at Ave Maria Law school, a tiny, extremely conservative law school started in Ann Arbor by Domino's pizza mogul Tom Monaghan will be U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Meanwhile, we at the University of Michigan will hear from the founder of Automotive Magazine, David E. Davis.

"ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will address Ave Maria School of Law graduates at this spring's commencement, the school announced Wednesday.

The 56 members of Ave Maria's second graduating class will participate in the May 16 ceremony in Ypsilanti. Thomas also will receive an honorary degree. [...]

The conservative Catholic law school opened in the fall of 2000. Sixty graduates took the July 2003 bar exam in 17 states and achieved a 93 percent pass rate, school officials said."

> From AP: "Clarence Thomas to speak at Ave Maria law commencement"
> See also Ave Maria Press Release
> My posts on David E. Davis: (1), (2), (3).

Posted by Rob at 11:42 PM

Friday, April 16, 2004

Mark your calendars

Free Cone Day is coming up at the newly re-opened Ben and Jerry's on State Street on Tuesday, April 27th and will feature an opportunity to register to vote.

> B&J State Street Website

Posted by Rob at 4:54 PM

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Michigan Daily editorial page editor Jason Z. Pesick has a lovely little column in today's Daily you might have heard about. In it, he writes about how glad he is that a "incestuous crew of campus activists," is "finally" graduating. It's enigmatically titled, "End of the vulcans" - I'm not sure what he means by "vulcans." (Maybe Vulture?) Here's the end:

" ... So I won’t shed a tear when these self-glorified hatemongers graduate. In the few personal encounters I have had with them, I have found their rhetoric and their approach to advocacy enraging and hurtful at the same time. I feel lucky that I am only a sophomore and did not have to go through college with them and constantly deal with their painful accusations for four years.

But I do think that some of them might be shedding a few tears when they leave Ann Arbor. They should. Because their silly campaigns at the University were their zenith; I pray they’ll never feel so important again. And I know that this University will be a much more decent place without them."

Posted by Rob at 5:25 PM

What's going on?

It's a busy time of year, to say the least.

Local and Campus News

- Stephanie Ridella, a 19-year old resident of South Quad from Troy, Michigan is missing. AANews: "Missing U-M student raises fears"

- The City of Ann Arbor has announced they'll install a median and "eventually" a traffic light on Plymouth Road, near where two U-M students were killed trying to cross the street. My view: two deaths are two too many: install them ASAP. (AANews: "Plymouth Road Changes proposed")

- Air quality in Washtenaw County is among the lowest in the nation, yet another reason why the region should vigorously move forward to increase funding for public transit, and freeze construction of sprawl and more roads.

- The Lecturers' Employee Organization held a "work-in" yesterday in the lobby of the Fleming Administration building to keep pressure up on the University. Daily: "Lecturers urge 'U' to resume contract talks"

- A law signed by Governor Granholm today mean those found guilty of "minor in possession of alcohol" who violate their probation would face "up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine under the new law." (Daily: "New Law Increases MIP penalties")

- At Goodness Day today, a group from East Quad was handing out pirate flags. Although I'm not sure if it was the East Quad Governing Council or the "Independent Republic of the RC" (I'm not sure if they're two different entities), but it brought to mind that group. Although pirate flags are neat, if it was the "republic" I hope they realize its not accurate to call yourself an independent republic if the RC is still run as a dictatorship - meaning its administration doesn't involved the formalized input of students. (Certainly, it's a benevolent one at that). Unless student input is formalized at the highest levels, I don't think it could be considered a "republic".

Posted by Rob at 4:55 PM

Michigan Student Assembly Update

- MSA is holding what they're calling an "unprecedented mass meeting" tonight at 7:00 PM in MSA chambers.

- Laban King, a black member of the Michigan Student Assembly, has resigned - saying it's not the place for minorities: (Daily: "MSA rep resigns, says assembly not place for minorities")

- My comments about MSA's refusal to appoint Teri Russiello has sparked some feedback. First, I was informed by a few people the Daily article didn't make sense because it neglected to note that she was not appointed because there was someone else running against her for the position of MSA Treasurer - none other than former Vice Presidential Candidate Anita Leung. Here's to correspondence - first, from someone who attended the meeting:

"I went to that msa meeting last night ... another thing about the treasurer position was that Anita Leung applied and she ran against Jason and Jenny for VP in the last election ... some people thought she was more qualified 'cause she had served on BPC for 3 semester and was vice chair last semester. I think the thing that separated the treasurer position from the others was that for the other position there was not an rejectee who seemed to be more qualified on paper than the eventual person picked. Jessie Levine was the only person who applied for the Student General Counsel position and Elliot Reid applied for Chief of Staff along with Anita."

The other commentary is from Teri Russiello herself:


I just wanted to quickly respond to a few things. My decision to run for MSA Treasurer was purely out of my dedication to serving the student body at the University of Michigan. The budget cuts are going to effect every student at the University and it would have been my honor to be a link between the student body, student groups, MSA reps, and the administration. However, for reasons described as "political", my efforts to fulfill those goals will not be as an MSA exec. By no means does this hurdle hinder these goals. Truthfully, I can see where the Assembly viewed my appoint as a "reward" for the amount of work invested into Student's First last semester. However, neither my application nor my interview reflected any experiences of past MSA campaigns. Instead, I chose to focus on a very detailed plan for combating the budget cuts, ideas on minimizing MSA's cost while maximizing efficiency, and creating the community cohesiveness necessary for a successful Assembly. While serving my term on MSA, the Budget Priorities Committee was not my choice
of involvement because my major focus on the Assembly was co-chairing the Women's Issues Commission (and yes, WIC has to balance a budget). I should not be penalized or scrutinized for that decision because I gained comparable
experience elsewhere and maintained my promise to advocate for one of my communities. I will not repeat the other qualifications stated in Tuesday's meeting but I will say that I was confident in my application and desire to be
Treasurer. I welcome any questions or comments. Thank you very much."

Posted by Rob at 4:53 PM

Personal Notes

This website has been selected by the editors of the Michigan Daily as "Best Blog" in Ann Arbor. See Daily: "GoodspeedUpdate a useful tool for 'U' community" Overall, I thought it was a very good article, except for the last paragraph which seems as if it were added by an editor: "The future looks bright for blogging to become common practice, especially as bloggers don't have to follow the rules of newspaper grammar and citing sources and can post articles, opinions and random thoughts with ease and comfort." I'll leave it for my readers to judge the quality of my journalism, although I try to think of what I do as slightly above the work of a tabloid "journalist" like Matt Drudge. (Also, here's the full list of the Daily's best of Ann Arbor)

My idea of creating an organization of progressive alumni/ae seems to be taking off - if you would like to be involved in an organizational meeting to be held in the next two weeks and have not yet contacted me, please drop me a line at rob at My friend Becky Parks has volunteered to head up a DC chapter - you can email her at parksr at, although for the early stages both groups will share the same listserv. (She works for a nonprofit there)

Posted by Rob at 4:50 PM

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

It seems as if all the activism of the Michigan Student Assembly and Student Voices in Action about Trotter House has been at least somewhat effective; I think this should be counted as a definitive step in the right direction:

"Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 3:31 PM -0400
Subject: Trotter House and Student Advisory Committee

Dear [Names omited],

I'm writing to update you on some of the planning that is underway regarding Trotter House and the formation of a student advisory committee.

Patricia Aqui Pacania, director of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, has been asked to chair a planning group for the future of Trotter House that is made up primarily of students. Patricia will soon be sending out communications via e-mail and in the Michigan Daily to invite nominations to serve on this planning group. The group, which will be named in May, will work rapidly over the next few months to define both short- and long-term needs for Trotter in serving our multicultural student

At the same time, President Coleman and I are working with experts in the Development Office to determine the feasibility of fundraising for Trotter renovations. President Coleman and I have made a personal commitment to investing our time in raising funds for Trotter.

With regard to a standing student advisory committee, I have begun discussions with student leaders and group members from a wide range of student organizations including the Michigan Student Assembly, Student Relations Advisory Committee (appointed by SACUA), Native American Student Association, Black Student Union, Arab Student Association, Latino Association, Asian American Association, Student of Color Of Rackham (SCOR), Muslim Student Assembly, All Fired Up, LSA Student Government and others. My immediate purpose is to seek your ideas about how this student advisory committee should be structured, what its ongoing role should be, and how it should complement existing student advisory and governance structures. I am trying to hold as many of these meetings and conversations as possible before the end of the term. If you or members of your group would like to share your ideas about this, please e-mail Sallye Ramsey at ramseys at My plan is to have the advisory committee up and running no later than October.

Finally, I would like to let you know that the position of Latino coordinator in MESA is posted at: . If you know of any good candidates for this position, I encourage you to bring them to our attention.


Royster Harper
Vice President for Student Affairs"

Posted by Rob at 3:48 PM

So you want to file a FOIA?

If you are looking to get access to administration memo, minutes, and budget information, and asking nicely isn't working, you can file a claim with the University's Freedom of Information Office. These claims are known colloquially in the journalism business as a FOIA (short for Freedom of Information Act), pronounced "Foy-ya", and can be filed by anybody - not just journalists. Most state and the federal government have adopted "sunshine laws" which make most records publicly available - these have in general been considered a positive step towards increasing the transparency and responsiveness of government A FOIA request is considered a legal process to be used as a last resort, and you should be warned that the administration is adept at chilling requests. Among the more interesting things you can get: DPS reports are public, you can ask for reports that mention specific people, or reports about specific incidents on campus, also student organization account records from SOAS are public. In addition, most e-mails and minutes regarding University business are public, IF you know what you're asking for. Here's a quick guide I prepared:

1) The University considers FOIA a means for people to obtain information after other attempts have failed, so before you resort to FOIA, they like you to ask for the information, and if they refuse, then you can do a FOIA. Tell them you intend to file a FOIA if they don't hand over the info and see what they say.

2) FOIA requests are accepted in written form or via e-mail, and they require some information - your name, address, etc. Here's the website of the University office that handles these requests. Their office is on the 6th floor of the Fleming building.

3) Technically, a FOIA is a request for a DOCUMENT. (Remember: emails are documents, although most admins delete them, but you can ask for emails sent to a specific user group, for example) You should be asking for a document you know exists - (memos, minutes, reports) or you suspect may exist. The more specific, the better. (As an example, for budget cuts, I am sure the Chief Financial Officer had meetings about cuts with Vice President for Student Affairs Royster, so maybe asking for those would be a good start.)

4) Exceptions. In general, anything with student's records, names, or other personal info they can either censor or legally refuse. Other than that, the restrictions are fairly narrowly defined: security procedures, medical records and the like.

5) Charges. For small requests, the University will give you the documents for free. For requests that will take a lot of time to find and/or compile (censor out student names, for example) they can charge you per page and also per hour of labor involved. This can get pricey, so that's why specificity is important.

6) The head FOIA officer is named Lewis Morrissey. He is a former journalist who I have met at a couple occasions, and is fairly cooperative.

7) By law, the University has to respond in like 7 days, but they almost always use a loophole that gives them an extension for 10 days to fill the request. If they need money they can demand a deposit or cheque.

Posted by Rob at 12:22 PM

At last night's MSA meeting, members balked at appointing former MSA Rep. Teri Russiello to the executive board position of Treasurer because it they thought her nomination was too "political." There's a number of ironies at work: first, the Daily seems very mystified by this development. (In addition to misspelling her name) Although they open their story with the phrase "Despite being mostly dominated by the Students First party ..." they never actually say why anyone would think it was a political move, although noting she had never served on MSA's Budget Committee. A quick search of their own newspaper would reveal her identified as "candidate manager" in a March 15 story. In reality, she has been heavily involved in Students First, serving in the most recent election as a "campaign manager." However, not only was her appointment political, the other appointments of Jesse Levine and Elliot Wells-Reid as General Counsel and "Chief of Staff" (A new position) are extremely political as well - both are personal friends of Mironov and Nathan (for the record, I consider them friends as well) and both members of Students First.

Lastly, having run an MSA political party, the ultimate irony is that in that capacity Ms. Russiello likely did gain some excellent experience handling money and operating a budget.

"Assembly members rejected the appointment, which was made by MSA President Jason Mironov, because they saw it as a political move. Russiello has not served on MSA's Budget Priorities Committee.

MSA Rep. Ashley Whitfield said she was concerned with the appointment, because other applicants who sat on the BPC felt that the selection was questionable, given Russiello's relationship with Students First. ... "

> Daily: "Students First focuses on budget cut effects"

See also the Daily story "SAPAC volunteers defend new changes," although I'm struggling to see how fragmenting an office and moving the emergency hotline to an already overburdened community organization located beyond walking distance away is helping the survivors of rape and sexual assault. Also, I find it hard to believe the new system will work "seamlessly":

"... The staffers said the proposed changes are a coordinated community response, in which survivors seek services at either SAFE House, SAPAC or CAPS and are immediately networked in a seamless system. ...

But it is "misinformation" that counseling and advocacy were always combined, said LSA senior Kathryn Turnock, a Crisis line volunteer at SAPAC and member of Our Voices Count, an student group formed to oppose the SAPAC changes.

"Neither Sasha nor Stephanie have anything to do with survivor services and have no grounds on which to speak about this knowledgably. The counseling does not have to stop when advocacy starts," said Mia White, LSA senior and SAPAC volunteer.

Opponents have said the system only seems coordinated but in reality will force survivors to recount their traumatic experience to numerous offices, split their counseling and advocacy needs and seek counseling in the often crowded Michigan Union, where CAPS is located.

Some of these concerns are legitimate, staffers said. Because every survivor's experience differs, some may not feel comfortable seeking help at the Union. But they noted that SAPAC's office is still open, "and it always will be, regardless of where counseling is done," Achen said. ... "

And this:

" ... SAPAC now has a men's activism program, coordinated by Atorino. "It's specifically geared towards men, to let them know what their role is in preventing sexual assault." The purpose is not to blame men as perpetrators, but to show them what they can do to curb sexual assault, he added. The program will assure men that "there is a male space" in sexual assault issues, he said."

While I'm glad they're communicating with men, when I was contacted by a women who alleges she was raped as the SAE fraternity days after another incident at the same fraternity was in the paper in March, it's clear we can assign some moral culpability. I think the greek system should adopt a strict policy on sexual assault, and if multiple substantive allegations are made about sexual assault the fraternity should face severe punishments, including possibly ejection from the campus greek system.

> Daily: "SAPAC volunteers defend new changes"

Posted by Rob at 11:49 AM

Bush, tonight on TV: From prepared remarks:

"In the south of Iraq, coalition forces face riots and attacks that are being incited by a radical cleric named al-Sadr. He has assembled some of his supporters into an illegal militia and publicly supported the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. ...

The violence we have seen is a power grab by these extreme and ruthless elements. It's not a civil war. It's not a popular uprising. Most of Iraq is relatively stable. Most Iraqis by far reject violence and oppose dictatorship.


"One central commitment of that mission is the transfer of the sovereignty back to the Iraqi people. We have set a deadline of June 30th. It is important that we meet that deadline.

As a proud, independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation, and neither does America. We're not an imperial power, as nations such as Japan and Germany can attest. We're a liberating power, as nations in Europe and Asia can attest as well. "

During the Q and A:

"A secure and free Iraq is an historic opportunity to change the world and make America more secure. A free Iraq in the midst of the Middle East will have incredible change.

It's hard. Freedom is not easy to achieve. I mean, we had a little trouble in our own country achieving freedom.

And we've been there a year. I know that seems like a long time. It seems like a long time to the loved ones whose troops have been overseas. But when you think about where the country has come from, it's a relatively short period of time. "


"QUESTION: Mr. President, before the war, you and members of your administration made several claims about Iraq: that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators with sweets and flowers; that Iraqi oil revenue would pay for most of the reconstruction; and that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction but, as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, we know where they are.

How do you explain to Americans how you got that so wrong? And how do you answer your opponents who say that you took this nation to war on the basis of what have turned out to be a series of false premises?

BUSH: Well, let me step back and review my thinking prior to going into Iraq.

First, the lesson of September the 11th is that when this nation sees a threat, a gathering threat, we got to deal with it. We can no longer hope that oceans protect us from harm. Every threat we must take seriously.

Saddam Hussein was a threat. He was a threat because he had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people. He was a threat because he coddled terrorists. He was a threat because he funded suiciders. He was a threat to the region. He was a threat to the United States. ... "

In case you were keeping track, it seems our president has taken the liberty to invent words. Yes, a quick check of Merriam-Webster online reveals that "suiciders" has been conjured out of thin air, I suspect the same way "warfighter" was. Where does that term come from? Here, from a letter to a surperior posted on the Army's website:

"Each and every one of my Soldiers is more than simply a logistician, a computer systems analyst, or a mechanic. Each one of my Soldiers does more than simply provide support and resources to enable other Warfighters to perform their operational commitments. Each one of my Soldiers is a Warfighter. Every Soldier in Iraq serving to liberate and guarantee a future of freedom and prosperity for the Iraqi people shares the title and honor of Warfighter."

Nope, that one is not in the dictionary either. (See more information on that word here) It seems new times demand new words: after all, if more and more of our armed forces are made up of private contractors, we can't say soldier, and mercenary just doesn't have a glorious ring to it.

More Bush:

"We're at war. Iraq is a part of the war on terror. It is not the war on terror; it is a theater in the war on terror. And it's essential we win this battle in the war on terror. By winning this battle, it will make other victories more certain in the war against the terrorists.


QUESTION: ... Sir, you've made it very clear tonight that you're committed to continuing the mission in Iraq, yet, as Terry pointed out, increasing numbers of Americans have qualms about it. And this is an election year.

BUSH: Yes.

QUESTION: Will it have been worth it, even if you lose your job because of it?

BUSH: I don't plan on losing my job. I plan on telling the American people that I've got a plan to win the war on terror. And I believe they'll stay with me. They understand the stakes.

Look, nobody likes to see dead people on their television screens. I don't. It's a tough time for the American people to see that. It's gut-wrenching.

One of my hardest parts of my job is to console the family members ...

We are in a long war. The war on terror is not going to end immediately. This is a war against people who have no guilt in killing innocent people. That's what they're willing to do. They kill on a moment's notice, because they're trying to shake our will, they're trying to create fear, they're trying to affect people's behaviors. And we're simply not going to let them do that.

And my fear, of course, is that this will go on for a while, and therefore, it's incumbent upon us to learn from lessons or mistakes, and leave behind a better foundation for presidents to deal with the threats we face. This is the war that other presidents will be facing as we head into the 21st century. ...

And the end:

"BUSH: Let's see. Last question here. Hold on for a second. Those who yell will not be ask -- I tell you a guy who I have never heard from.


QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

BUSH: This was -- it's a well-received ...

QUESTION: Following on both Judy and John's questions, and it comes out of what you just said in some ways, with public support for your policies in Iraq falling off the way they have, quite significantly over the past couple of months, I guess I'd like to know if you feel, in any way, that you have failed as a communicator on this topic.

BUSH: Gosh, I don't know. I mean ...

QUESTION: Well, you deliver a lot of speeches, and a lot of them contain similar phrases and may vary very little from one to the next. And they often include a pretty upbeat assessment of how things are going, with the exception of tonight. It's pretty somber.

BUSH: A pretty somber assessment today, Don, yes.

QUESTION: But I guess I just wonder if you feel that you have failed in any way. You don't have many of these press conferences where you engage in this kind of exchange. Have you failed in any way to really make the case to the American public?

BUSH: You know, that's, I guess, if you put it into a political context, that's the kind of thing the voters will decide next November. That's what elections are about. They'll take a look at me and my opponent and say, let's see, which one of them can better win the war on terror? Who best can see to it that Iraq emerges a free society?

And, Don, you know, if I tried to fine-tune my messages based upon polls, I think I'd be pretty ineffective. I know I would be disappointed in myself.

I hope today you've got a sense of my conviction about what we're doing. If you don't, maybe I need to learn to communicate better.

I feel strongly about what we're doing. I feel strongly it's the course this administration is taking will make America more secure and the world more free and, therefore, the world more peaceful. It's a conviction that's deep in my soul. And, you know, I will say it as best I possibly can to the American people.

I look forward to the debate in the campaign. I look forward to helping -- for the American people to hear, you know, what is the proper use of American power. Do we have an obligation to lead, or should we shirk responsibility? That's how I view this debate.

And I look forward to making it. Don, I'll do it the best I possibly can. I'll give it the best shot. I'll speak as plainly as I can.

One thing is for certain, though, about me, and the world has learned this: When I say something, I mean it. And the credibility of the United States is incredibly important for keeping world peace and freedom.

Thank you all very much. "

Key Phrases:

1. "It's not a civil war."
2. "We're not an imperial power"
3. "... maybe I need to learn to communicate better"

> Source: Transcript
> White House Official Release

Posted by Rob at 12:45 AM

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

The first-annual Ann Arbor Book Festival is planned for April 22 through the 25th, and will feature a one-day street fair of booksellers on Saturday, April 24.

> The Ann Arbor Book Festival Website
> Entry

It has also been brought to my attention that the Ghost Dog Press is holding an event that weekend as well, their "Free Speech Fest 2004." Tickets are avaliable on their website:

THURSDAY, April 22:

8PM: Opening Party at 555 Arts Collective. Art Show, live music, meet the writers!
555 Arts Collective 200 E. Michigan Ave. Ypsilanti.
Suggested Donation $5-7 no advance tickets for this event, just come on out!! See you there!

FRIDAY, April 23:

8PM: Our first official night of the Festival, featuring poetry and prose from those who roam outside literary borders: poetry, spoken word, cultural essays, bits of novels, short stories and performance art with musical accompaniment. Friday night will feature: Eileen Myles/San Diego , Neeli Cherkovski/San Francisco , Ken Mikolowski/Ann Arbor, Jake Kaida/Ann Arbor , Jimmy Nil Fishhawk/Gainesville , Alise Alousi/Detroit , Mick Murphy/San Francisco , Kim D. Hunter/Detroit , Mark Nowak/Minneapolis , Crystal Clowney/Detroit , Shawn Shiflett/Chicago. Above Ground Studio, 302 B South State Street, Ann Arbor."

Posted by Rob at 4:20 PM

Here's the Phoenix Honor Society's Yahoo Group.

Posted by Rob at 1:58 PM

Debbie Stabenow has introduced legislation that would make election day a holiday to help increase voting turnout:

"Studies of the 21 most advanced democracies, going all the way back to 1945, show the United States rate of voter participation is one of the lowest in the world - and continues to fall," Stabenow says. "Between 1980 and 2000, voter participation in Australia, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Sweden was 80 percent or better, and participation in Israel, Great Britain and Canada was 70 percent or better. Over the same period, however, voter participation in the United States was just 50 percent."

Stabenow notes a survey done by the U.S. Census Bureau shortly after the 2000 elections that found respondents cited a schedule conflict with work or school as the number one reason for not voting. ... "

> "National Holiday for Election Day Proposed "
> See also George Hotelling's Post on the issue
> Local blogger Astrogibs has weighed in as well

Posted by Rob at 1:55 PM

Monday, April 12, 2004

Last week's "joke" issue of the Monroe Street Journal - the Business School student paper - has been generating some controversy. Unfortunately, it seems as if the "letters to the editor" containing all the discussion are available only to business school affiliates.

Posted by Rob at 9:41 PM


It has been rumored that current Michigan Student Assembly president Jason Mironov was tapped by Michigamua to be a member of their "Pride of 2005." Well, it was true he was tapped, however Mr. Mironov has decided he did not want to be a member of that organization. He told me that he " ... chose not be part of the organization after I had done my own homework and because of the controversy surrounding it." Mironov also told me he intends to use his position to encourage dialogue about Michigamua on campus.

In addition to Mr. Mironov, MSA Vice President Jenny Nathan turned down a tap to be a member of Phoenix's 2005 class. Here's a paragraph she sent me about that decision:

Jenny Nathan, MSA Vice President 2004-2004, College Dems Chair 2003-2004
Tapped by Phoenix, March of 2004

I turned down the Phoenix Tap because joining a secret society would violate and betray every value that I have worked and fought for on campus over the last 3 years. Honesty, transparency, equality, a level playing field--the elitism and secrecy of the Tower societies contradict every one of these values. In College Dems and on MSA I have worked to represent ALL STUDENTS. As a white, Jewish woman, I have worked to build bridges and establish relationships with people from all different backgrounds--relationships that are built on TRUST, as well as a mutual desire to see positive changes here on campus and on a larger scale. If I were to join a secret society, I would be betraying the trust that I work every day to earn. The history of the Tower societies--Michigamua, Phoenix, and Vulcan has caused so much pain and division amongst people I know and care about. Even if the societies claim to have changed their ways, the damage is done. I turned down Phoenix on the spot, and the women who tapped me said that they had anticipated that I would refuse, and that alone I took as an honor. "

More people who have turned town taps are forthcoming ...

> Michigamua Image Gallery
> Michigamua / Phoenix Membership Page
> Vulcan Members

Posted by Rob at 8:11 PM

I have been talking with a couple friends about founding an organization of progressive alumni of the University of Michigan with the purpose of encouraging postgraduate networking, and also working as a progressive force to ensure the University as an institution is moving in the right direction on issues that we care about. If you are interested in such an organization, drop me an email at rob at, or post a comment with your email address and ideas!

Posted by Rob at 7:46 PM

President Bush will address the nation live tomorrow night at 8:30 PM during the 12th televised press conference of his presidency about the large-scale war of independence brewing in Iraq and his handling of 9/11.

"WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush will work to defuse two issues in his prime-time news conference on Tuesday: rising casualties in Iraq and his response in 2001 to a terrorism warning the White House had in hand before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Both issues are critical to Bush's re-election strategy, which is focused on the president's record on national security.

Bush plans to open the 8:30 p.m. EDT news conference - the 12th of his presidency, but only his third televised in prime evening viewing hours - with a statement on Iraq, White House communications director Dan Bartlett said Monday. He said the president will be prepared to address questions about a memo, titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," that Bush received on Aug. 6, 2001. ... "

> AP Story on, and in The Guardian of London

Also, a state board which has previously accepted the language on the anti-affirmative action ballot initiative petition has reversed their decision, which "likely places the fate of the proposed ballot initiative in the hands of the Michigan Court of Appeals."

> See AP: "State boarresendsds approval of anti-affirmative action petitions"

Posted by Rob at 7:00 PM

Incoming MSA President and Vice President Jason Mironov and Jenny Nathan are seeking to start their terms with a bang, circulating the following email about a town hall meeting this Thursday:


Care about the state of housing in Ann Arbor? Have something to say about the Naked Mile? Suggestions for the Budget Cut task force? Come address your Michigan Student Assembly representatives at a public meeting and help shape plans for summer and next year.



Jason S. Mironov
President, Michigan Student Assembly

Jenny Nathan
Vice-President, Michigan Student Assembly"

Posted by Rob at 6:35 PM

It appears as if a line of daffodils have been guerilla planted on the U-M diag running from the entrance to the SNRE building to Mason Hall - and at least one has bloomed.

Posted by Rob at 3:29 PM

Michigamua has found itself once again in the news, this time because members can have membership listed on their official transcripts:

"Michigamua, the secret society of University of Michigan students kicked out of the Michigan Union four years ago after a student protest, is once again the focus of student complaints.

This time, student activists want U-M to cut its last tie to the group: Membership in Michigamua can be listed on a student's transcript as an honor.

Eliminating that practice was on a list of issues that Student Voices in Action recently presented to U-M President Mary Sue Coleman and other administrators.

Michigamua, an honorary society formed in 1902, was founded on Native American themes, with members sometimes painting themselves red and wearing loin cloths and headdresses in their rituals. The organization, which includes former President Gerald Ford among its alums, kept a meeting room in the tower of the Michigan Union until 2000, when a group of students occupied the room and demanded the organization's ouster because, they said, its actions dishonor Native Americans. U-M administrators eventually moved Michigamua and a couple of other organizations out of the Union. Michigamua now meets off campus.

Members of Student Voices discovered that Michigamua is still among more than 220 organizations and honors that U-M students can ask to have noted on their official transcript. U-M officials say they were unaware that Michigamua was on the list and they are reviewing the practice. ...

Sean Carmody, a member of Michigamua who has spoken on campus on the group's behalf in the past, said the organization's members don't list the organization on their transcripts, although they are aware they could.

"We're a humble organization," he said. "We don't use our organization to call attention to ourselves."

Carmody declined to say where the group meets or describe what it does. Its Web site says it is committed to diversity and it has dropped connections to Native American culture from its rituals. It calls itself a "quiet leadership society." ...

Activists say the group hasn't reinvented itself enough, and it is unapologetic for the past.

"Just because you've changed something you used to do doesn't really make anything right," said Brittany Marino, incoming chairwoman of the Native American Student Association. "The name of the group hasn't changed. ... It does offend a lot of people."

The Michigamua Web site says the name was made up by founding members.

The list of transcript honors is being reviewed by U-M Provost Paul Courant, who will come up with a new policy to determine which should continue to be listed on transcripts, and which should not. Among the questions, he said, is why there are only 220 on the list, but more than 800 student groups at the university.

Most of the honors are awards or prizes, like the Hopwood Major for literary achievement.

Others denote membership in a honors club, like Golden Key, which calls itself an international academic honor society. Some recognize service to fraternities and the university, like the Order of Omega.

The university likely will make some changes to the list of honors. "Michigamua and many other groups are there as artifacts" of a old practice, said U-M spokeswoman Julie Peterson.

"What the university is now asking is whether these groups that appear on the transcripts have a mission that's consistent with an academic honorific award," she said.

Reporter Dave Gershman can be reached at (734) 994-6818 or dgershman at "

> AANews: "U-M group again target of complaints"

Posted by Rob at 3:25 PM

This "open letter to fellow employees," by RC staff member Craig Regester, was printed in this week's University Record:

"An open letter to fellow employees

On April 8, I didn't go to my office in East Quad. Instead, I joined those picketing around campus. I am not a lecturer; I am a staff coordinator in the Residential College.

Before I chose to honor the picket, I understood that the decision to support a strike is not an easy one. Ultimately, everyone has to make his or her own decision, and I respect this.

At the same time, I believe the fundamental issues the Lecturers' Employee Organization (LEO) is struggling for (basic job security, living wages and consistent, affordable health care) are not individual at all—but fundamentally collective in nature. As the saying goes, "We're all in this together."

Indeed, we all work for the same employer, no matter what our specific job title, department, etc., is. How the University chooses to negotiate (or not negotiate) with one set of employees is directly related to how they might negotiate (or not) with another set of employees in the future—whether union or not.

Personally, with a wife and 20-month-old child, I am very concerned about my health care benefits. I think the University is setting a very dangerous precedent by the way it is attempting to explain and handle the problem of increased health care costs. It is not at all unlikely that future raises we may (or may not) secure will be swallowed entirely by increased medical insurance premium costs to employees. With everything else staying equal, this would mean net pay-cuts each year instead of raises.

As well, I am troubled that U-M is one of the few public universities around the country that does not offer tuition discounts to the spouses and dependents of employees. By the time my wife has finished her master's program here, my family will have accumulated enough student loans to greatly exceed my annual income! The University could easily (and quite cost-effectively, when compared to actual monetary compensation) offer tuition discounts to family members of any University employee. This would benefit everyone.

I realize that work-related conflicts are fraught with tension and awkwardness. With everything we have to do for our jobs each day, it is tempting to want to remain neutral. Unfortunately, I don't think this is possible.

We are "all in this together." And by that, I mean working toward the same overarching goal—to create the best possible public learning community. But this community includes us as U-M employees, as much as it does anyone else. We all deserve job security, living wages and guaranteed health care coverage.

I believe—and ask you to join me—the best way to demonstrate our support for this honorable civic goal is to join all efforts by University employees to organize unions and secure fair contracts that represent their interests. Right now, LEO is asking for our support. Who knows, tomorrow we may be asking for theirs.

—Craig Regester, RC Development Coordinator "

Posted by Rob at 10:40 AM

Well, the hype is optimistic at least. In reality, the University is scared they won't be able to attract the researchers, since a number of similar "life sciences" research centers recently opened around the country:

"ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- With the state hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs, a new, $100 million science center at the University of Michigan is being hailed as an experiment that could attract new biotechnology businesses to the state while revolutionizing biological research worldwide.

The building, which opened in September, is one of three such buildings in the country where researchers from various scientific disciplines work side-by-side, unfettered by walls dividing their departments. ... "

> AP: "New U-M biotech lab seen as scientific and business catalyst"

Posted by Rob at 10:00 AM

The Michigan Debates on Urbanism debate today on "Post Urbanism" has been postponed until April 20. See Upcoming, or the official website for more info. Here's an email sent by the dean of the college of Architecture and Urban Planning:

"Date: Thu, 08 Apr 2004 12:02:11 -0400
From: kelbaugh at
Reply-To: kelbaugh at

the third and final michigan debate on urbanism has been moved from next monday evening april 12 to tuesday april 20 at 5:30 in the A&A auditorium.

peter eisenman will present work of his office, which is being billed as representative of "post urbanism" and steven peterson and barbara littenberg will counter with work representative of "re-urbanism." it follows on the first two debates, which were on "everyday" and "new" urbanism respectively.

in this ongoing battle of urbanisms with pre-fixes (as opposed to prix fixe), they will each show several projects, including their entries in the ground zero competition in lower manhattan. (they were 2 of the seven invited teams, with libeskind studio the ultimate winner.) prof. roy strickland, a fellow new yorker, will moderate.

as always, the prixe fix of admission is zero, free. so, come early for a seat."

Posted by Rob at 9:56 AM

It appears LEO is making headway in their negotiations with the University, however slowly:

" ... While Friday's bargaining session at Wolverine Towers made little progress toward the signing of a first contract between LEO and the University regarding LEO's wage compensation and health benefits demands, the University presented a new job security proposal that would redefine the appointment process for lecturers. ... "

> Daily: "Post-strike talks leave lecturers, 'U' at odds"

Articles of note:

> Daily: "Minority biases in media kindle new fires of activism"
> Daily: "DPS looks into recent anti-gay chalking"
> Daily: "Student set to stand trial"

Posted by Rob at 9:53 AM

Sunday, April 11, 2004

I've been reminded to post about two services provided by the Michigan student assembly, that are particularly relevant when registering for classes. First is Advice Online, which gives you access to data about how fellow students have ranked classes and professors. The other is the website, where you can buy and sell textbooks, rate professors, and find sublets. I've been told that currently DogEars has 1947 registered users, 1485 books for sale, and 164 reviews of professors, which sounds as if it's certainly worth checking out.

"Tired of getting boring Professors? Check out Advice Online and to ensure a good schedule for the fall!

Remember those surveys you fill out at the end of every semester, MSA compiles all the info and has given your professors and lecturers grades on Advice Online. started at University of Michigan two years ago and has been updated and supported by MSA. DogEars is a great way to find reviews about your professors, to buy and sell textbooks, and to look for sublets."

Posted by Rob at 11:16 PM

VP for Student Affairs Royster Harper is juggling her various advisory committees, since she's been forced to create another:

Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2004 15:01:51 -0400
From: Jimmy Brown
To: MI-Roundtable at
Subject: Final Roundtable - Student Advisory Group Discussion

Dear Student Roundtable:

We are writing to share the agenda for next week's Roundtable meeting--the last one of the academic year. Our topic is a very important one so we hope that as many of you as possible will plan to attend. We will meet Thursday, April 15th, 5:00-6:30 in the MSA Chambers.

As many of you may be aware, Vice President Harper has agreed to establish a Student Advisory Group to advise the Division of Student Affairs. Because Student Roundtable is a standing group with a long standing relationship with DSA, we are very interested in your input as we form this group. In particular, we are interested in what ideas you have for:

• the purpose/charge of a Student Advisory Group; and
• how membership should be selected.

Also, we are very interested in learning what you believe is the relationship of this group to other standing groups such as Roundtable and what you believe the role of Roundtable needs to be.

This conversation is one of many that the Vice President intends to have with interested student groups about the formation of a Student Advisory Group. If, in addition to sharing your voice as a member of Roundtable, you would like VP Harper to meet with your organization to discuss this topic, she is very interested in hearing from you about arranging a meeting. Please contact her directly via email (harperer at VP Harper will be working with the Office of Student Activities and Leadership (SAL) to organize these meetings.

The Division is extremely interested in your input and would very much value your voice in this discussion. We hope that you can attend Thursday's meeting and share your good ideas. Thank you in advance for your commitment to continuous improvement to student life. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday.

-Jimmy Brown and Sarah Koeze
Student Outreach Coordinators"

Posted by Rob at 6:19 PM

I just uploaded a PDF copy of my honors' thesis on my personal website. It is titled "Urban Renewal in Postwar Detroit - The Gratiot Area Redevelopment Project: A Case Study." Feedback is welcome!

Posted by Rob at 5:48 PM

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) is currently conducting a study exploring the possibility of expanding rapid transit between Ann Arbor and Detroit, and the study has launched a website.

Posted by Rob at 5:13 PM

Susan Skarsgard's Imagine/Align project, which planted 20,000 daffodils in the Arb, will have an official opening on April 24 from 1 to 3 PM. According to a photo posted on her website as of April 8th the daffodils are coming up but have not yet bloomed.

Posted by Rob at 5:09 PM

Conan Smith has announced he'll be running in the August 3rd Democratic primary for a seat on the Washtenaw County Commission. Smith is currently the Land Programs Director of the Michigan Environmental Council, and chairs Ann Arbor's Cool Cities Task Force, of which I am a member. Smith's only opponent is David Stead, a former City Council member and environmental advocate. I don't know David Stead, but he also sounds like a competent and qualified candidate. However, having worked with Conan Smith on the Cool Cities Task Force, I think he would make an excellent public official. Smith told the Ann Arbor News he plans to run on a platform of "developing a comprehensive transportation system, fiscal responsibility and smart growth." Here's more from the article:

"... Smith, 32, is the grandson of Al Wheeler, Ann Arbor's first and only African-American mayor, and the son of Alma Wheeler Smith, the former state senator and one-time gubernatorial candidate. His aunt, Nancy Francis, is a Washtenaw County Probate Court Judge. ...

David Stead, a former Ann Arbor City Council member, also announced his candidacy last week after nearly a decade out of public office.

Stead, a former environmental lobbyist, is co-founder the Center for Environmental Policy, which does consulting in the private and public sectors.

He also is a member of Ann Arbor's Environmental Commission and Recycling Commission, and plans to campaign on land-use and environmental issues, along with regionalization of services. ... "

> AANews: "Conan Smith follows family tradition with a bid for office"
> Conan Smith's campaign website

Smith's short but pithy list of endorsements already includes U-M History Professor Matt Lassiter, longtime City Council member Wendy Woods, in addition to his mother former State Senator Alma Wheeler Smith, and his fiance and director of MARAL Rebekah Warren.

Posted by Rob at 3:19 PM

Activists in Charlevoix Michigan, a tiny town of just over three thousand residents near Traverse City, are working to stop a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter. They allege the store will wreak havoc on local businesses, arguing the location of three Wal-Marts within close proximity will result in a near-monopoly situation.

"CHARLEVOIX, Mich. (AP) -- Opponents of a planned Wal-Mart Supercenter are awaiting a pep talk from a nationally known crusader against the world's largest retailer.

Al Norman is scheduled to speak Thursday evening at a forum sponsored by This Is Our Town, a grassroots group opposing Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s efforts to expand into Charlevoix County's Charlevoix Township. ...

"The free marketplace is predicated on a diverse number of players of relatively equal strength," Norman told the Traverse City Record-Eagle for a Sunday story. "When you get to a situation where one player predominates, you get close to a monopoly. Wal-Mart is the end of competition in a local area, not the beginning." ...

Norman said he led a successful 1993 campaign to keep Wal-Mart out of his hometown of Greenfield, Mass. Since then, he said, more than 215 communities have successfully opposed Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers.

Wal-Mart already has stores in Petoskey, Gaylord and Traverse City -- all within 50 miles of Charlevoix -- and the proposed Supercenter in Charlevoix indicates the retailer is "just trying to saturate the area, said Norman, who has written two books on Wal-Mart's negative effects on communities. ... "

> AP: "Wal-Mart opponent to speak in northern Michigan resort town"
> Traverse City Record-Eagle: "Crusade against Wal-Mart"
> The activists have contacted an organization which calls themselves the "Sprawl Busters"

I'd encourage U-M students from the area who oppose sprawl to write a quick letter to the Traverse City Record-Eagle from this page on their website.

Posted by Rob at 3:04 PM

Students for Social Equality, a socialist student discussion organization, has called a demonstration on the U-M diag tomorrow to protest the ongoing occupation of Iraq:

"Stop the war against the Iraqi people! US troops out of Iraq!

Rally on the Diag
Monday, April 12

The Students for Social Equality calls upon all members of the University of Michigan community -- students, faculty and campus workers -- to assemble on the Diag on Monday at noon to demonstrate their opposition to the atrocities now being carried out by the United States government and its armed forces against the people of Fallujah, Baghdad and cities throughout the country.

We, as thinking and feeling human beings, have a responsibility to take a stand against this war, and by so doing demonstrate to the world that the criminal acts now being perpetrated by the United States government against Iraq are
widely opposed by American working people and student youth.

We demand an end to the oppression and killing of Iraqi people and the immediate withdrawal of all American and other occupation forces. It is the right of the Iraqi people to work out their own destiny. Those who planned, organized and launched this illegal war, on the basis of lies, should be held responsible and accountable for their crimes, which have cost the lives of nearly 650 American soldiers and countless Iraqis.

-- For more information about the Students for Social Equality, contact sse at"

Posted by Rob at 2:50 PM

Friday, April 09, 2004

I've been contacted by a member of Vulcan and active leader in the U-M alumni association. "How is that you obtained a program from the Vulcan 100th Anniversary?" he asks, instructing me "I would like to retrieve it from you as this booklet is meant only for the use of its members. I would be glad to have someone pick it up or send a self addressed stamped envelope for you to send it in." Unfortunately for him, there's a number of copies, and the full contents will eventually be digitized and posted on this website.

Posted by Rob at 5:03 PM

Michigamua Images Posted

"The struggles of Native Americans are not new. Since European contact, we have fought to retain our dignity in the face of oppression and assimilation. Sadly, we continue to struggle at the University of Michigan. In 1972, courageous members of our community informed Michigamua and the University of Michigan about how their actions and inactions demean our personal dignity and undermine our culture through the perversion of our religious practices. Our concerns were reiterated in 1978 and again in 1986. In 1989, an agreement was signed between Michigamua, the University, and a Native American complainant, in which Michigamua promised "to eliminate all references to Native American culture and pseudo-culture and extensions and parodies thereof." Realizing that the agreement had not been upheld, Native American concerns were reiterated in 1997. Our struggle continues today. ... "

> From "A Statement from the Native American Community Saturday, February 19, 2000"

I've just posted a page of images related to Michigamua, which show that organization at the time of the 2000 occupation was in egregious violation of the terms of the 1989 agreement since the "Wigwam" was stuffed with objects and materials refering to Native American culture.

> Michigamua Images

Posted by Rob at 4:54 PM

LSA Student Government has posted on their website an application for their "Judiciary Committee" which is the LSA version of the Central Student Judiciary that settles disputes between organizations, and those that arise during elections. Here's a description:

"The purpose of the Judiciary Committee is to serve as a governing body that oversees the rulings of the LSA-student government. Additionally, the Committee will have original jurisdiction over all cases arising out of or concerning regulations, legislation, or other actions enacted by the government. It also hears cases arising out of the Constitution and the Bylaws of the Government and shall hear election related cases consistent with the other provisions of the Constitution. This role is extremely important because it ensures that all representatives' voices are heard within government and appropriate procedure is followed. Any questions please contact LSA Counsel, Stuart Wagner, stuwags at"

Posted by Rob at 1:36 PM

In an apparent divide and conquer approach to Student Voices In Action, President Coleman has told the group she would not meet with them again, and Vice President for Student Affairs Royster Harper has contacted a number of individuals and organizations involved with SVA with a form email, asking for their "thoughts and ideas about the Student Advisory Committee that I will be establishing in the Fall."

Meanwhile, SOLE has been lobbying the administration force their contractors to disclose the wages of their employees. I support what SOLE is doing, and I challenge them to tie their wage disclosure request with at least some of the SVA demands.

> Daily: "Coleman to respond to wage proposal Monday"

LEO Coverage:
> Daily: "Contract talks will resume today"
> Daily: "Campus reacts to LEO strike"

Posted by Rob at 1:26 PM

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Former Detroit Mayor To Speak:

"Dennis Archer, Mayor of Detroit 1994-2001, will be the 2004 Citigroup Lecture at the University of Michigan on Wednesday, April 14, 2004, at 4:00 p.m. in the Pendleton Room of the Michigan Union.

Mr. Archer, who is currently President of the American Bar Association and chairman of Wright Dickinson LLP, a Detroit-based law firm, will be speaking on public service and the future of American cities.

The lecture is free and open to the public. There will be a reception following the lecture in the Wolverine Room of the Union. "

> entry

Posted by Rob at 4:20 PM

What about VULCAN?

The secret senior honor society in the College of Engineering is called VULCAN, and celebrated their 100th anniversary this weekend. I have obtained a "booklet prepared in conjunction with the Vulcans 100th Anniversary Celebration, held on April 3, 2004 at the Michigan Union ballroom." Here is their statement of purpose:

"VULCAN is a society consisting of juniors, seniors, and graduate students who have shown leadership and service to the College of Engineering and the University of Michigan. The purpose of the society is five-fold:

1. To promote comradeship among its members based on their mutual interests.
2. To develop cooperation between student organizations by promoting this friendship among their leaders.
3. To bestow private recognition upon those who are deserving by electing them to membership.
4. To provide service to the College of Engineering in situations where VULCANS has unique capabilities.
5. To maintain the decades of tradition on which our organization was founded."

Included in the booklet is a listing of members. Unlike Michigamua, the organization seems to have kept less complete membership records. Here's the caveat they print before the list, the "most extensive effort of this sort ever attempted.": "Every attempt has been made to make this list as accurate as possible. However, it is almost certain that mistakes have been made . ... Any questions or corrections may be reported to v-alumni at, or to Vulcan Alumni Association secretary, Tom Hemr.

Without further ado, ladies and gentleman I present to you VULCAN.

Winter 2004 "Vulcanus"
Bahareh Aslani - Hestia
Nia Harrison - Athena
Sean Holleran - Morpheus
Alan McGaughey - Anteros
Evita Nedelkoska - Aphrodite
Marvin Riley - Heracles
Kristi Schmidt - Iris
Jennifer Szymusiak - Hebe
Elliot Wells-Reid - Salinas
Heather White - Psyche
Hon: Frenchie Burroughs - Astarte

Fall 2003 "Troy"
Ronald Dreslinski - Apollo
Hannah Goldberg - Eos
Darby Grande - Psyche
Lauren Greiner - Hebe
Jason Hemak - Ares
Marco Krcatovich - Dionysus
Joseph Lamber - Hermes
Chitra Laxmanan - Cybele
Stephen Rumple - Heracles
Neil Shah - Aeolus
Cordelle Thomasma - Asklepios
Hon: Melissa Eljamal - Amphitrite

Winter 2003 "Thebes"
Brad Belsky - Aeolus
Matthew Cavanaugh - Dionysus
Eli Cooke - Pan
Kristie Devovich - Demerter
Marissa Ebersole - Cybele
Angela Lueking - Tethys
Vernon Newhouse - Hypnos
Meredith Palen - Astraea
Mashid Pirzadeh - Psyche
Steve Skripnik - Eros
Geoff Zmyslowski - Harpocrates

Fall 202 "Samos"
Kiran D'Souza - Harpocrates
Victor T. D'Souza - Poseidon
Jason Hand - Dionysus
Peter E. Haupt - Heracles
Eric Jankowski - Heliod
Michael Lepech - Asklepios
David Ostreicher - Pan
Eric M. Roeder - Aeolus
Jeremy Schneider - Apollo
Brandon Wright - Ares
Hon: Brian Gilchrist - Hermes

Winter 2002 "Rhodes"
Mark e. Christian - hypnos
Patrick J. Goleski - Heracles
Kim Lytle - Eos
Tracy L. Matson - Hestia
Brian J. Mount - Dionysus
Christopher K. Paulson - Aeolus
Janet M. Pien - Astraea
Avi Shertok - Helios
Melissa S. Wu - Artemis

Fall 2001 "Parnassus"
Kristin M. Derwich - Demeter
Mariesta L. Edje - Hestia
Jill M. Gorski - Hebe
Mike R. Lopex - Hermes
Elana M. Martin - Amphitrite
Ken R. Maschke - Dionysus
Brian D. Netter - Aeolus
Tershia Pinder - Athena
Kristina Schmitt - Cybele
Ted W. Way - Harpocrates
Hon: Kevin Collins Asklepios

Winter 2001 "Omphalos"
Michelle N. Butler - Hestia
Aimee E.Constantine - Hebe
Daniel B. Cook - Hypnos
Alessandra B. Ennett - Athena
Michael R. Farina - Salinas
Angela R. Fletcher - Aphrodite
Darren N. Goetz - Harpocrates (Selected, didn't accept membership)
Arthur P. Hutchinson - Ares
Michael Muse - Anteros
Matthew E. Rudnick - Aeolus
Neha D. Shah - Artemis
Bruno P. Vanzieleghem - Heracles
William E. Wahl - Dionysus
Hon: Susan Ederer - Psyche

Other past classes will be forthcoming, and are avaliable from me upon request.

Explanation of names: "Shortly after the Winter 1995 initiation ... The suggestion was made to select a Greek place name and assign it to each class." Also, this year's class and every 20 years hence will be called "Vulcanus," a made-up name.

Posted by Rob at 3:15 PM

History Professor Matt Lassiter, has told students in his "American History 1945 to the Present" class that, "On Thursday, between 11:40 and 1:00, the GSIs and I will be outside of Angell Hall on the State Street side for a discussion about anything you want,
including current events on campus."

Posted by Rob at 4:51 AM


The Lecturers' Employee Organization one-day walkout is today. Schedule of events:

LEO Teach-in, First Congregation Church (corner of William and State), 1:00-4:00 PM
--1:00 The Corporatization of the Public University
--2:00 Testimonials: Life in the Corporate University
--3:00 Reclaiming the Public University

LEO Rally at THE Cube, 4:30 PM

> Information about the walkout circulated via email
> LEO Website

Although I had originally volunteered to participate in a panel of history majors who had completed honors thesis today (Thursday), when I discovered it was on the same day as the LEO walkout, I emailed my concerns to the group, telling them I would like the event to be re-scheduled. On Monday, after the LEO walkout vote was final, I told the organizers I would not be able to participate. Unfortunately, emails distributed as recently as yesterday to the list of history concentrators list me as a "tentative" participant. This is false. I will be respecting the LEO picket lines and not entering any University building for class or any other purpose between the hours of 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM. However, if you would like to talk to me about my thesis, please feel free to contact me.

Weather tomorrow, according to Weather Underground:

Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of rain. Highs in the mid 50s. East winds 5 to 10 mph shifting to the North around 10 mph in the afternoon."

Check back here for late-breaking news and continuing coverage of the LEO walkout.

Posted by Rob at 12:10 AM

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Whither Goest, Naked Mile?

"... It was something Ann Arbor was known for in the 1990's and like all other things in the city that were once thought of with nostalgia and pride, it too was corrupted by people who should have had no control over it.

The administration set up fliers all across the campus announcing the dangers of the Naked Mile. We were told that students would be abused and fondled and that their pictures would be placed on the Internet for all to see. The Ann Arbor Police Department also started cracking down on the participants, arresting students who then faced misdemeanor charges as well as thousands of dollars in fees. What was once a cry of freedom not only brought about restraints from the police, but also embarrassing repercussions on the Internet. Soon, the Naked Mile was dead and the only people who were willing to run were students in bathing suits who were brave enough to weather the cold.

Contrary to some people's belief that I am just interested in seeing a bunch of naked people (I can do that any day on the Internet), I am moved to write about this because the administration and police's powers annoy me. This was our event. We wanted to do something silly and refreshing and were bogged down by the powers that be. [...]

Unfortunately, MSA's thumb-twiddling and administration brown-nosing have become all too familiar. Instead of just looking back with longing, we have only one option, though technically illegal, to take back the freedoms that are rightfully ours. I invite the brave and righteous to get naked, strap on the saran wrap, run the mile and bring back our Naked Mile. ... "

That from Sravya Chirumamilla's column in today's Daily titled "Don't rob me of my Naked Mile"

I, myself got curious about the nature of the University's crackdown on the Naked Mile in 2002. It turns out the propaganda that turned up on campus and in dining halls was the work of a committee with quite a few notable members. According to minutes I obtained of one meeting of this committee in March 2002, the following people were present at one meeting of this quasi-secret university committee: From the Ann Arbor Police Department Larry Jerue and Mark St. Amour, Steve Hiller from the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's office, Dan Sharphorn from the U-M General Counsel's office, Dean of Students Frank Cianciola representing the U-M divison of student affairs, Jim Kosteva representing the University's Community Relations department, University spokeswoman Julie Peterson, Joel Seguine from the News and Information office, and DPS spokesperson Diane Brown. Yes, MSA had one attendee: Edgar Zapata.

You might recognize a few of those names: it's nothing less than a roster of the highest ranking university and governmental officials involved in public relations and law enforcement in the city. I was shocked by the lengths going to crush this student tradition, and wrote a story for the Daily about it: "Committee hopes to end Naked Mile" Here's an excerpt from that 2002 story:

" ... According to University officials, the committee has been in existence for several years.

"We have pulled together a committee for the past three to four years that represents campus," DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said. "This is also the group that addresses the event itself and how to manage it."

"About four years ago the University decided to try to ratchet up the response to eliminate the event," she added.

This year marked the first time students were invited to join the committee. A representative from the Michigan Student Assembly attended the March 5 meeting and will attend the next meeting in early April.

"They're going to have a lot of police officers at the event - more than at any other event," Edgar Zapata, LSA sophomore and co-chair of MSA's campus safety commission, said. "They're working really hard to make sure things go their way." ... "

> See my Naked Mile information page

Naked Mile was traditionally held on the last day of classes. This year, that day falls on Wednesday, April 21st.

Posted by Rob at 11:22 PM

From various sources. These people were selected for membership one year ago, I'm still working on compiling this year's members. This list is incomplete - if you can help complete either year, please contact me.

The Michigamua "Pride" of 2004 (incomplete)

1. Nupur Kanodia - Dance Marathon External Director - kanodian
2. Bobby Nooromid - Tau Epsilon Phi / Hillel Governing Board Chair - nooromid
3. Nicholas Douville - ndouvill
4. Brandon Roberts - Baseball - bradrobe
5. Jon Monger - College Democrats, Hillel - jmonger
6. Brian Rhodes - National Society of Black Engineers - brhodesz
7. Ronald Lavelle Crawford- Basketball - rlcrawfo
8. John Navarre - football - jnavarre
9. Grant Weber - Dance Marathon - weberg
10. Steve Skripnik - University Activities Center President - sskripni
11. Jillian Centanni - Society of Women Engineers - jcentann

Posted by Rob at 12:59 PM

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

"Democracies are not well-run nor long-preserved with secrecy and lies."

Quick, who said that: Zinn? Chompsky? Some craazy columnist with The Nation or The Michigan Daily? Sorry: It's none other than former CBS newsman Walter Cronkite opining against the Bush administration in his latest column.

Posted by Rob at 10:08 PM

"WASHINGTON - A retired minister, a college student and a member of the military are among those involved in the American Civil Liberties Union's challenge to the list of travelers that the government has barred from flying because they're considered a threat. ... "

> AP: "ACLU sues government over 'no-fly' list that bars travelers"
> ACLU PR: "ACLU Files First Nationwide Challenge to "No-Fly" List, Saying Government List Violates Passengers' Rights "

Posted by Rob at 12:35 PM

This message was distributed to LEO members yesterday:

"Fellow LEO Members,

By now, most of you have received the email letter from Provost Courant outlining the UM Administration's view of the state of the negotiations, and the implications of the Thursday walk-out that, regrettably, now seems virtually inevitable. This is not the place for a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal of every problematic aspect of the letter. However, we do feel it necessary to respond to several critical points in some depth. There are four points in total. If one does not interest you, please skip to the next.


The Administration letter states that "Any withholding of work by public employees including the refusal to teach classes is a violation of state law." This is true. However, this is a civil rather than a criminal law. To break it is the legal equivalent of a parking ticket except that it does not carry a fine that would apply to members.

Breaking this law is not, however, the moral equivalent of parking ticket. There is no human right to park wherever you want. There is, however, a universal human right to freedom of association, recognized by the International Labour Organization and by the United States itself. The U.S. State Department's human rights policy is that "the right of association includes the right of workers to strike. While strikes may be restricted in essential services (i.e., those services the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of a significant portion of the population) and in the public sector, these restrictions must be offset by adequate guarantees to safeguard the interests of the workers concerned." [U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999 (February 2000), Appendix B. Cited in Lance Compa, "Workers Freedom of Association in the United States: The Gap Between Ideals and Practice," in James Gross, ed., Workers Rights as Human Rights (Cornell University Press, 2003), pp. 31.]

The Michigan law that we face is not a restriction of our right, checked by safeguards to ensure that it does not go too far; it is a blanket prohibition accompanied by no procedural or substantive safeguards. As such, it is a violation of our human rights as workers. It is entirely appropriate for those of us who are not performing "essential services" to engage in civil disobedience when faced with such violations of our rights. While we do not bear anything like the same risks, we nonetheless walk in the tradition of those who -- with good conscience and after careful consideration -- chose to violate the segregation laws that prevailed in this country not so long ago.


The Administration letter argues that more important than the legal issue, our walkout "would represent a serious disruption of the educational activities of the University. Most of the harm would fall upon our undergraduate students." We are gratified that the Administration sees our work as so important that to deprive our students of even one day of our classes would constitute a serious harm to them. And we do agree that some harm is done, though (with the extra teaching days in the Winter term this year) the scale of this harm should not be exaggerated.

It is because we recognize that some harm is done, even by a one-day walkout, that many of our members thought hard -- even agonized -- about whether to take this action. In the end, the vast majority (88.5% of those who cast a ballot) decided that such action was justified if it was necessary to advance the larger goals that we are pursuing in this round of collective bargaining. The Administration's letter can leave little doubt as to that necessity.

What has to be thrown onto the other side of the balance is the harm done to our students by the current system of academic labor. One piece of this is that the 85% of our members who work under term-to-term or year-to-year contracts are unable to devote as much time and energy to their students as they would if they had better job security. This is because they must always be worrying about lining up extra work, in case their contracts are not renewed. As the share of teaching at this university done by people working under these conditions has increased, the share of the UM's spending devoted to supporting teaching has declined.

Both trends imply a shift in university priorities that downgrades the importance of teaching students to the highest standards of excellence. We aim to reorder those priorities, to establish a new balance between teaching and other UM goals. The rebalancing that we seek should benefit our students at least as much as it benefits us.


The Administration letter says that "the University has proposed that all regular lecturers who have been employed satisfactorily for four years of continuous service would be eligible for multi-year contracts," provided that various (reasonable) conditions are met. That sounds pretty good, doesn't it? What the Administration letter does not say is that, if they have their way, only about 15% of the people in our bargaining unit will ever be classified as "regular lecturers" essentially the same people who are now Lecturer IIIs. While a few people could be promoted from term-to-term or year-to-year contracts to "regular" status (just as a few Lecturer Is become Lecturer IIIs under the current system), the Administration argues that the great majority of Lecturers must remain what they call "affiliate lecturers."

The Administration letter also mischaracterizes our bargaining position on this question. We have always made clear at the bargaining table that we recognize that some positions should remain term-to-term or year-to-year in order to respond effectively to "shifting enrollment patterns," and "the need to fill in for tenured faculty who go on leave." However, the great majority of the NTT faculty hired on short-term contracts are not meeting either of these needs. The proof is that they are hired back, term after term, year after year. In our web-based membership survey, we found that 75% of responding members had taught at the UM for at least 5 years, and the median number of years at UM was 10. Thus, most of us really are long-term UM employees; but we waste a lot of time and mental energy because the Administration refuses to treat us that way.

The Administration also invokes "budgetary pressures" as a reason for denying on-going employment to roughly 85% of our members. This is surely closer to the mark in terms of the driving motive underlying the current trajectory of the academic labor system. The university does save money by paying us so little, and it is easier to pay contingent employees less than regular employees. That is why private industry in the United States and beyond has been relying on "contracting out" a growing share of its labor needs. The question here is whether it is FAIR to treat us, and our students, in this fashion, and whether the public interest is served by this kind of behavior. We take up this question in the section on wages, below.

Before we go there, though, one more point about the Administration's characterization of our position on job security. The Administration letter argues that our demand for "on-going employment" after a probation period and review would provide "this one group of faculty [i.e., those in the LEO bargaining unit] with a level of job security beyond that afforded most other instructional employees of the University." Let's think about this statement. If you subtract us from the equation, the only other large group of instructional faculty at this university -- the other half, basically -- is the tenured faculty. So the Administration is claiming, if a little obliquely, that LEO is demanding a form of job security that is stronger than tenure.

This is absurd interpretation of our position. Tenured faculty cannot be laid off because the department budget is cut, or the curriculum committee decides to stop offering a course, or because student demand for that course declines. Under our proposal, all of these things might count as legitimate grounds for laying off NTT faculty. Similarly, when did you last hear of a tenured faculty member who was fired for failure to maintain high teaching standards? In our proposal, failure to maintain such standards could count as "just cause" for termination, even after the probationary period had passed. In short, there is no way that our proposal entails job security that is as strong as that afforded by tenure, though it certainly does afford much more security than we currently have.


Let's turn, finally, to the question of wages. The Administration states that if all of our wage demands -- for a minimum wage for all based on the starting salary of Michigan K-12 public school teachers, a retroactive raise for all, raises for all over the life of the contract, etc. were met, the total cost of our salaries would increase by something about $12 million. The current cost of our combined salaries -- the Administration says there are about 1,700 faculty in our bargaining unit, so presumably their estimate sums the salaries of all these people -- is about $30 million. Thus, the full realization of all our wage demands would raise our cost to the university by a little over one third of its current level.

We have no quarrel with these estimates, but we need to put them in perspective. The UM's net revenues from student tuition and fees in FY 2003 was $564 million. Our members do half of the UM's teaching in many units, as we have explained in our fact sheets. Yet,we receive only $30 million, just over 5% of the net revenues derived from these student payments. (That doesn't count the additional university revenue that flows from state transfers paid for each in-state student.) The UM's total revenue (excluding hospitals and other medical facilities) in FY 2003 was $2.3 billion. If we use this denominator, our share of the UM budget shrinks to just 0.01%.

Thus, depending on which figure we use, meeting all of our salary demands would require a 1.65% increase in student tuition, or a 0.0033% increase in total UM revenues. Considering the importance of teaching at this university, the quality of our work, and the share of UM teaching that we do, the tiny fraction of university revenues allocated to our salaries is shocking. The only good thing about it is that fractions this small make it easy to meet our demands with only the most marginal impact on the overall university budget. It should not be necessary to raise student tuition one cent to meet our demands.

It is true, of course, that times are hard and that the university has faced cuts in transfers from the state government. But the Administration did not raise our salaries even when times were very good. Throughout the stock market boom of the 1990s, when the value of our endowment grew very rapidly, average salaries for our members continued to creep up at just 1% a year after inflation. This at a time when UM tuition was rising at an average rate of 5.8% after inflation.

Where was all that stock market and tuition fee money going? We don't know. But when there are 300 full-time UM lecturers in Flint and Dearborn who make less than $20,000 a year, while our university President is paid $677,500 a year -- more than any other public university president in the country -- it ill behooves this Administration to plead poverty to us! They ought to be ashamed to pay any full-time UM faculty less than half the starting salary of a Michigan K-12 public school teacher!

Enough! It's time to change this unfair and incoherent system, for our own good and for that of our students. It's time to use our power to make this university operate in a fashion more consistent with the principles of rationality, justice and commitment to advancing the public good that its leadership routinely invokes in its speeches. See you on the picket lines on Thursday."

Posted by Rob at 12:26 PM

"... Borders’s employees negotiated for a year to get a fair contract, and it was only after they went on strike that they achieved their demands — even though Borders had said it was impossible. The Graduate Employees’ Organization negotiated with the University to no resolution for months, until they forced the issue and held a one-day walk out — a week later they had a contract with childcare. The University belongs to the Worker Rights Consortium and has a code of conduct that helps to ensure fair labor practices not because the University wanted to sign on or because students asked nicely for it. Instead, after being rebuffed by the University in negotiations, Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality started a sit-in and demanded that the University do it. The racist secret society Michigamua was forced out of the Michigan Union and made to change some of their rituals not because of students’ repeated requests, but because a coalition of students engaged in a 37 day sit-in and forced the University to act correctly.

The University will respond to demands and direct action and it really doesn’t matter if they like to or not. This Thursday, after nearly a year of weekly negotiations, the Lecturers’ Employee Organization plans to stage a one-day walk out. This action is not rash, radical or reactionary. It is a thoughtful escalation of tactics that is only necessary because the University has continuously stalled and refuses to budge on several key LEO demands — among them that the University pay lecturers with doctorates more than untrained middle school teachers with no advanced degrees. ... "

> From Jess Piskor's column: "Asking is for X-mas presents, demanding is for justice"

See also today's story: "Lecturers, 'U' fail to agree on key issues"

Posted by Rob at 12:20 PM

Recent U-M grad David Enders has an article in the Michigan Today magazine, distributed to alums by the administration, about his experiences starting an English-language news magazine in Baghdad: "Assignment: Baghdad: How I started a magazine in a war zone, to avoid the post-college job market"

The magazine, which has since ceased publication, was called the Baghdad Bulletin.

Posted by Rob at 2:22 AM

Arm yourself ... with argument:

"LEO’s Vision of a Better University: What We Want and Why it Matters

by Ian Robinson

You’ve heard what our proposals are, and you’ve heard how the Administration is responding to them – respectfully, but very cautiously. I think it is relatively easy to imagine how our proposals on job security, job titles, promotion and compensation – the heart of this round of bargaining -- if implemented, will transform our own work lives at this University for the better.

I want to address the wider implications of what we’re pursuing – in particular, how our proposals offer important, positive answers to four problems currently plaguing our university system.

Our proposals address four problems that, in the larger scheme of things, are at least as important as improving our personal situation, because they will positively affect so many lives beyond our own. Successfully addressing these problems ought to matter to us, as professionals with a commitment to truth, as citizens committed to a society in which free inquiry and debate informs all public policy making, and as people with a commitment to promote respect for basic worker rights and a more just society.

1. Our proposal will move us toward putting excellent teaching on a par with excellent research in this university. ...

2. Our proposal will move us toward more comprehensive and effective protection of “academic freedom” at this university. ...

3. Our proposal will help another important part of the UM community – our graduate students -- by creating a viable career alternative to the current situation of intensified competition for a diminishing number of starting level, tenure track jobs. ...

4. Our proposal, if realized, will inspire non tenure-track faculty elsewhere to organize, and provide them with a model for what to do with that power once they acquire it. ... "

> From the LEO website

Posted by Rob at 1:53 AM

Looking for a snazzy t-shirt, hoodie, pencil, or tote bag? Yes, look no farther than your local Trotskyist-dominated, dogmatic affirmative action group BAM-N, who is selling all of these and more online on their website.

Repeat after me: You can support affirmative action and not support BAM-N. In fact, virtually all do!

(Thanks to David Boyle for the sharp eye)

Posted by Rob at 1:46 AM

" ... Colleges have been steadily increasing the availability of treatment and counseling, and students have responded. At the University of Michigan, for example, the number of students seeking counseling has risen 22 percent in three years, said Todd Sevig, director of counseling and psychological services.

Some college officials see the contradiction inherent in their new efforts to offset stress and encourage the joys of reflection and unstructured time. After all, it was multitasking, hyperorganized, résumé building behavior that helped some students get admitted to their schools in the first place.

"We admit only the most over-scheduled children and we boast of how many sports they play, how many clubs they organize, how many hours of volunteer service they provide," said Elaine Hansen, president of Bates College, in Lewiston, Me., in her inaugural address two years ago. How then, she went on, could Bates encourage those same children to risk "moments of woolgathering, daydreaming, improvisation" that she viewed as an essential component of a liberal arts education? ... "

> From NYTimes: "Today's Lesson for College Students: Lighten Up"

Posted by Rob at 1:04 AM

Monday, April 05, 2004

Through their mouthpiece, the University Record, administrators are urging faculty and students not to walk out on Thursday: "Provosts urge instructors not to walk" See also:
> Daily: "Lecturer vote authorizes strike"
> AANews: "U-M lecturers' union to strike"

Also, the Ginsberg Center has given the following people awards: Professors Larry Gant, William Schultz, Lecturer John McLaughlin, and students Monique Perry, Justin Peterson, Ingrid Spangler, Pete Woiwode, CJ Johnson, Christine Sauve, and Tim Reed. Student organizations recognized include: the Civic Mapping Team, Radical Arts Collective, Community Consulting Club, and U-M Reach Out!

Here's some more winners:

" ... The Outstanding University Programs award went to CAAS Pedagogy of Action Study Abroad Program in South Africa, for involving students in health activism in the country; and English 319: Theater and Social Change, for involving students in conducting writing and theater workshops for prison inmates.

The Ginsberg Center Program Awards went to Seth Galligan, Adrienne Gilbert, Emilie Rex and Cami Yuasa (America Reads); La Shaunda Webb, Patrick Merfert and Clara Hardie (Michigan Community Service Corps); Tessa Ditonto, AJ Zuniga and Vanessa Sanchez (Detroit Initiative); Katherine Wehri, Andre Brown and Kaellen Weld-Wallis (Michigan Neighborhood AmeriCorps Program); Melanie Bunce, Gabrielle Holmes and Alana Aaron (Project Community); and May Fung, Jie Liu, Smita Kahloke and Anna Skinner (SERVE).

The Ginsberg Center also nominated professors for state and national awards: Buzz Alexander, professor of English language and literature, Community Luminary Award; Bunyan Bryant, professor of natural resources & environment, Ernest A. Lynton Award for Professional Service and Academic Outreach; Janie Paul, assistant professor of art and design, Michigan Campus Compact Faculty Award for Community Service Learning; and David Scobey, associate professor of architecture, Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning."

> Record: "Ginsberg Center bestows service and social action awards"

Other articles of note:

> URecord: "U-M holds strong in U.S. News graduate school rankings"
> Daily: "Rankings rise for some U-M schools"
> Daily: "New Ford School building to have more space for classes"

Also, police have caught two men accused with mugging a U-M student on North Main over the weekend.

Posted by Rob at 2:06 PM

The University of Minnesota Library has launched a free blog hosting service for its students, faculty and staff. I think a similar program at the University of Michigan would be a great idea, for a number of reasons. I've posted about it over at Arborblogs.

Posted by Rob at 1:54 PM

This e-mail is being circulated:

LEO WALK OUT! --- APRIL 8, 2004!
The Lecturers' Employeers Association will be doing a one-day work stoppage on Thursday, April 8, 2004.

Support the nontenure-track faculty in their fight for a fair contract!

*Don’t cross the PICKET LINE!
*Don’t go to class!
*Stay out of the library!
*Don’t go to your University job!
*Stay out of the computer lab!

Wednesday, April 7th

**The Bigger Picture: Putting UM Faculty Organizing in Context Film and Discussion
Angell Hall Aud. D at 7pm

**Picket Lines 101
Come learn how to help at the walkout!
Angell Hall Aud. D at 8pm

**Picket Sign-Making Party
Angell Hall Aud D (immediately following Picket Lines 101)

Thursday, April 8th
Sign up for a picket line shift!
(email jmanders at to sign-up)

First Congregational Church
(On the corner of State and William)
1pm Corporatization of the Public University
2pm Testimonials: Life in the Corporate University
3pm Reclaiming the Public University

LEO RALLY at 4:30pm at the CUBE

For more information visit:
Email: leounion at Call: 995-1813"

Posted by Rob at 2:23 AM

This website has been voted #2 "Best Blog" in Current Magazine's "Best of Ann Arbor 2004" For a few more results, see this Ann Arbor Is Overrated Post. Current has not yet posted the results on their website, however the category is new this year.

Posted by Rob at 1:21 AM

A new state law currently being considered would allow the University of Michigan to keep its investment information private:

"In response to a threat by a major venture capital fund to exclude investment by the University of Michigan, legislation is making its way through the state Legislature to exempt universities from disclosing sensitive information about their investments.

The Michigan Senate on March 24 voted 33-4, with one abstention, in favor of a bill to amend the Confidential Research Information Act, initially passed in 1994 to protect intellectual property and other sensitive information generated by research at public universities and colleges. ...

Garcia's legislation essentially would allow universities, colleges and community colleges to avoid disclosing details of their investments as long as they report aggregated information annually.

According to Cynthia Wilbanks, U-M's vice president for governmental relations, the legislation is modeled after rules already in place for the state's pension funds.

Institutions would have to report the name of each company in which the university invests, the total amount of money invested in portfolio companies, the total rate of return and the source of any public funds invested.

... The issue came to a head in July 2004 when Menlo Park, Calif.-based Sequoia Capital asked U-M to sell its investments in Sequoia funds, which has funded the likes of Internet portal Yahoo. (See Business Direct Weekly, Sept. 4-10.)

Sequoia said it was concerned that U-M would be forced to release damaging information about the companies it invests in through Sequoia because of freedom of information laws.

A freedom of information request filed in February 2004 by the San Jose Mercury News forced U-M to reveal the funds performance figures.

U-M invests a small portion of its $3.5 billion endowment in venture funds for diversification purposes. Overall, it had 4.3 percent invested in venture funds in 2003; in 2002, it had $54 million invested in Sequoia funds. ..."

> Business Direct Weekly: "U-M investments spur new info rules"

It turns out the fund in question, in which the University has invested $54 million, has been a national leader in funding call center companies located in India.

Curious about what companies the University has invested in? Three snapshots of the University's "directly held equities" are avaliable on this website - from 2000, 2001, and 2002. How many corporate criminals can you find?

Posted by Rob at 1:12 AM

Blogger Chetly Zarko sees behind last week's men's basketball NIT champtionship a conflict of interest, and a system of college athletics which abuses the players for its own profits:

"Last year at this time, who'd have bet that the Michigan Wolverine basketball team would win a national title this year? At that time Michigan was serving the first of a two year prohibition from postseason play for the various frauds and head turnings of the Chris Webber era. [...]

This die-hard Wolverine still wanted Michigan to win this evening as the game was progressing - any other feeling would have been distinctly against my instincts. Nonetheless, I can't help but question the integrity of tonight's title. ...

Still, the University of Michigan couldn't stomach the bitter taste (and painful economic effects) of this medicine, so it lobbied the NCAA to revoke its second year of post-season prohibition. NCAA General Counsel is now Elsa Cole, the former General Counsel of the University of Michigan. One is lead to ask some pretty hard and obvious questions here. The incestuous network of higher education is frought with its own subtle conflicts of interest and internecine networks of cross-pollination. Did Michigan use its previous relationship, or other information it could have developed through that relationship, improperly. Should Cole have recused herself from any decision-making last fall? In the normal corporate world of legal representation, an attorney can not represent a client in a situation against a previous client. ...

The NCAA should punish schools and responsible individual athletes (and not "teams" with rule-abiding athletes on them). Schools like Michigan should pay many millions of dollars in fines; otherwise there will never be a real disincentive to "look the other way;" and moreso, the NCAA should make those school pay for independent monitoring services (with the teeth to ask hard questions and privately look into athethic behavior) for several years. Individuals caught breaking rules should be quickly punished at appropriate levels; but it must always be remembered that it is the institution that is profitting hugely in a system configured solely for their benefit without similar benefit to the athletes at a rate (zero) controlled by a non-market monopoly. A national system of injury insurance (whereby injured athletes receive a reasonable "disability salary" benefit throughout their lives) and modest compensation while playing (equal to all athletes) above mere tuition grants (a comfortable salary, to discourage the type of behavior at issue), along with contracts obligating the athletes to conduct standards in return for the compensation."

Posted by Rob at 12:46 AM

The Davis Affair, Con't

"Debate is raging at the University of Michigan because the distinguished automobile journalist David E. Davis, Jr. has been selected as the commencement speaker," writes blogger W. Frederick Zimmerman in a recent post. He continues:

"I worked for Davis for about a year almost fifteen years ago, and as a matter of fact, he is pompous. But he is actually a wonderful choice for a commencement speaker at a prestigious liberal arts university. He is that rara avis in 21st-C America, a man who has made a great living for forty years by being profoundly cultured. He is also a fabulous raconteur and a very experienced public speaker. He'll do a great job."

I'll leave it up to you to decide whether "profoundly cultured" and "car critic" are not oxymoronic terms. I still think Jess Piskor's column sums this one up.

Posted by Rob at 12:31 AM

Sunday, April 04, 2004

According to Matt Hollerbach, Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper will address the Michigan Student Assembly at their last meeting this semester - Tuesday, April 13th, at 7:30 PM. She had originally intended to come this week, but the visit was delayed because many members wouldn't be able to attend because of Passover.

Now seems a good time to remind visitors of the Student Voices in Action demands I recently posted, the anonymously-authored website "SAPAC must stay ... AS IS!", and the Our Voices Count website.

Posted by Rob at 10:40 PM

Sound familiar?

The New York Times Sunday Magazine features this week an article about the "Girls Gone Wild" video series and Joseph Franci, the owner of the $100 million per year business, looking to expand into themed restaurants. Unfortunately, Mr. Francis has found himself in a bit of legal trouble:

"In [the Panama City Beach, Florida] case, Mr. Francis and some of his employees are charged with racketeering, obscenity and enticing underage girls to expose themselves and engage in sex acts during spring break last year. Mr. Francis has pleaded not guilty. While he awaits trial, the Miami Beach police are investigating an allegation by a 21-year-old woman that he drugged and raped her in his hotel room in South Beach last month, although the police report said she wasn't sure what had happened. ...

Mr. Francis denies all the charges. He countered that officials in Panama City Beach, whom he sued to prevent them from interfering with his camera crews last year, are using him to try to get rid of spring breakers in hopes of attracting family tourism. Through a spokesman, he said this week that he is willing to take a lie detector test to prove that he and the woman accusing him in Miami Beach had consensual sex. ... "

> NYTimes: "The Very Long Legs of 'Girls Gone Wild'"

Posted by Rob at 10:31 PM

"City council to look at plans for old YMCA

The Ann Arbor City Council on Monday will review plans for redeveloping the YMCA building at Fifth and Williams streets, once the Y moves out.

Susan Pollay, the Downtown Development Authority executive director, is suggesting that the city seek bids for proposals from housing agencies that could oversee the construction, financing and eventual operation of the residential building.

The plan for the building calls for demolishing all but the residential areas, building a replacement residential structure, and moving the current tenants to a new location.

The council will discuss the plans during a 7 p.m. meeting Monday in the council chambers on the second floor of city hall, 100 N. Fifth St."
(AANews: Outfront)

And this:

> AANews: "Hash Bashers know where the line is"

Posted by Rob at 3:10 PM

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Cafe Oz, the hookah bar started by U-M law student, pro-Palestine activist, and former Michigan Daily columnist Amer G. Zahr has purchased a liquor license, and will open as a bar on April 23.

Posted by Rob at 2:48 PM

Big Ten Burrito, a new burrito take-out restaurant on South State Street between the intersections with Hill and Packard, has been generating some buzz. They are one of two burrito shops on campus, aside from Panchero's on South University. The shop is run by two young entrepreneurs, and is open until 4 AM - putting it in the same league as Jimmy John's, Rendezvous Cafe, NY Pizza Depot, Panchero's, and the Fleetwood for late night eateries. (All close at 4 except Fleetwood, which is open 24hrs)

Posted by Rob at 1:20 PM

Friday, April 02, 2004

I just updated my Michigamua / Phoenix page with member information for Michigamua's 1999 class, and the 2004 and 2005 members of Phoenix. I'm working on Michigamua for this year and last, which will hopefully be posted soon.

Also, I'm hoping to debut soon a feature called "I turned down the tap" - of a list of campus leaders who were "tapped" in recent years to join one of the campus secret societies and turned it down - complete with a brief explanation from each explaining their decision. As someone noted in a comment posted below, they're "scraping the bottom of the barrel" .. and for good reason - many authentic leaders have declined to join the societies, for a variety of reasons. If you would like to be included in this list, please contact me. (See bottom left for contact info)

Posted by Rob at 4:58 PM

If you see a couple U-M Department of Public Safety officers cruising around campus in Harley-Davidson's, don't be surprised: DPS announced their new "motor unit" two days before Hash Bash. In the University press release, DPS Capt. Joe Piersante comments, "They especially will be helpful when working with large crowds, such as football games and special events, as well as enhance our services when providing dignitary protection." The motorcycles are being leased from Harley-Davidson for $350 for the first year, and DPS considers it an effective way to cut vehicle and fuel costs.

> UMPR: "U-M Public Safety rolls out motor unit"
> Photos of U-M Police Officers at Hash Bash in 2002

Posted by Rob at 3:43 PM

The RIAA lawsuit against nine U-M students for file sharing was filed in court yesterday.

Posted by Rob at 3:34 PM

Daily cartoonist Sam Butler's most recent cartoons feature President Mary Sue Coleman:

> In today's President Coleman muses she should appoint an advisory board to decide which cereal to choose
> On Wednesday, President Coleman is taking students for a spin in the "Budget Cut Shuffle"

Posted by Rob at 3:26 PM

I've just posted a complete copy of the demands of the organization Student Voices in Action presented to University Administrators one week ago.

> Read the SVA Demands here

Posted by Rob at 3:21 PM

Although the greeks have quit the Student Voices in Action (SVA) coalition, complaining that they treated administrators "rudely," that organization seems to be quietly achieving many of their demands - the University is going to hire a full-time Latino coordinator, created a student budgetary advisory group, President Coleman has said she'll personally help raise money for Trotter house, and now appears to me making steps to improve reporting of hate crimes. Also, activists are hopefull they'll find money to re-hire the education coordinator in the LGBTA office, who had been fired.

> Daily: "Greeks drop out of coalition for student services"
> Daily: "Police to step up prevention of hate crimes"

And this:

> Daily: "Activists have high hopes for tomorrow's Hash Bash"

Posted by Rob at 2:15 PM

Ann Arbor's annual "hash bash" is this Saturday at 12:00 PM on the U-M diag.

> Hash Bash Website
> Michigan NORML Website (Drug law reform group)
> NORML: "33rd Annual Hash Bash Takes Place April 3rd"
> event entry

Posted by Rob at 12:13 AM

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I've been contacted by a member of the Phoenix honor society, who says the group "toured" the tower on Tuesday, and didn't have a meeting there. I don't think the distinction affects the argument I made when I reported on the visit: the tower is now closed to all students except for members of elite secretive organizations. This means the University is in violation of the recommendations of the Office Space Panel accepted by President Bollinger, unless the space is now available for tours by any student organization.

" ... Let me first thank you for your reply. I sincerely appreciate you comments and concern. However, as a student here at the University, I have concerns of my own.

As a journalist, it is irresponsible of you to post inaccurate or misleading information. If you don't know what you're talking about you should either say so or not say anything at all. You claim on your website that Phoenix held a meeting in the tower last night. That is simply not true. We do not and have not had access to the tower outside of last night. Our group TOURED the tower with escorts who are unaffiliated with Phoenix. I'm not going to go into the logistics that made the tour possible, but I will say that the option is available, with enough persistence, to all who have a legitimate reason to do so.

Secondly, the purpose of anonymity is to maintain the humble nature of the organization and its members. We are not to be going around, bragging about our membership. It is people like you who manipulate it into anything else. Regarding Michigamua, I am in complete alliance with NASA, but Michigamua is irrelevant in relation to Phoenix today.

With your website, you have the power to do much good by educating fellow students about things that other media outlets may not address. I commend you for your courage to do so. However, along with that power comes a responsibility for accuracy and integrity. I feel that you have compromised both in much of what you wrote regarding Phoenix. I hope that you make an effort to convey the truth, and if you don't know what that may be, honesty is
the best policy: say so."

Posted by Rob at 10:51 AM

Articles of note:

> Daily: "Police end case about SAE rape allegation"
> Daily: "Coleman OKs board of advisors"
> Also, SVA responds to Monday's editorial about them in a letter to the editor


"... Most pessimistically, one might even conclude that America’s great experiment of building world-class public universities supported primarily by tax dollars has come to an end. It simply may not be possible to justify the level of tax support necessary to sustain the quality of these institutions in the face of other public priorities, such as health care, K-12 education and public infrastructure needs — particularly during a time of slowly rising or stagnant economic activity and an aging generation that apparently cares little about the future it leaves for its children. ... "

> From former President Duderstadt's viewpoint "America needs to re-commit itself to investing in the future"

Posted by Rob at 10:21 AM

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