In this file I have compiled a selection of the opinion columns and news articles I wrote as a staff member of the

Michigan Daily, while an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. To see the full collection of my newspaper clips, please visit http://www.michigandaily.com and search for “Neil Tambe”. Alternatively, click to this URL: http://michigandaily.com/search/apachesolr_search/%22Neil%20Tambe%22. Best, Neil

Table of Contents: Publication Date 9/7/2007 Title “Ask, and then ask again” Notes Opinion column. Received commendation in 2008 Collegiate Circle awards by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association - Link Opinion Column Opinion Column Opinion Column Opinion Column Opinion Column Opinion Column News Article News Article

9/19/2007 10/17/2007 3/7/2007 9/2/2008 1/15/2009 3/19/2009 11/2/2005 1/11/2006

“Pre-public service” “A student advocate” “Getting out of the icebox” “Making ‘teamership’ as important as leadership” “Rallying the B.S.E’s” “The need for non-profits” “Ecology Center pressures Dow” “Life after Coke: Area feels effects”

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Neil Tambe: Ask, and then ask again

By Neil Tambe On September 9th, 2007 I am one of those kids who, despite the rolling eyes of out-of-state friends, points to my hometown on my hand. I am a Michigander. Lately, there's been considerable chatter around the state emphasizing the need to attract college graduates to stay in Michigan. There have been studies (like the Cherry Commission report) dissecting this issue. Such efforts are obviously necessary. However, Lansing should not just focus on presenting economic carrots. There's one simple tactic that is yet to be employed: Ask us to stay. On paper, staying in Michigan is a hard sell to worldly college graduates aspiring to earn six figures, plan for a family and live a purposeful, difference-making life all before hitting 30. Many of us Michiganders feel firsthand the crippling effects of unemployment, reductions in corporate benefits and financial stresses. It's easy enough to find households in a cash-crunch even in the state's most affluent communities. Regardless of whether Michigan's economy is getting better, we're already jaded. Aside from woes about financial stability and unemployment, Detroit is hardly an urban center on par with cosmopolitan cultural centers like Chicago, New York or San Francisco. Furthermore, the city has no legitimate public transit system and faces constant accusations of governmental corruption and incompetence. I look forward to a day when Detroit returns to prominence as a metropolis, but that day certainly isn't coming soon enough for people like me who are graduating in the next couple of years. To their credit, it's very clear that politicians in Lansing want college graduates to stay in the state, though their current plans may not bring results. Programs like the Cool Cities Initiative, Graduate Purchase Assistance program and the 21st Century Job Fund demonstrate that keeping us here and creating jobs for us is of importance to lawmakers. Unfortunately, when charted against present realities of life in Michigan - economic hardship, cultural mediocrity - even those programs seem futile. If college students perform a cost-benefit analysis on whether to live in or leave Michigan, the state will nearly always get the short straw. Those of us who want to stay in Michigan - or return to the state someday - want to do so for reasons beyond finding a job and becoming wealthy. We want to see Michigan thrive. We love this state. Many have family ties. The Red Wings and the Tigers are classic sports teams. The suburbs are a wonderful option for settling down and starting a family. Michiganders are fair and decent people who make wonderful neighbors. Lansing, do not humor yourself by believing that a few rounds of public policymaking will persuade us to stay. Think beyond tax incentives and appeal to loftier values like civic duty, love of community and state pride instead of only pandering to self-interest. Our generation grew up
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performing community service and volunteering: We do care about higher ideals. We have pipe

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performing community service and volunteering: We do care about higher ideals. We have pipe dreams about being playmakers during our state's ascension from hardship. We have a will to be active participants in the revitalization of Michigan. Furthermore, please engage in some domestic diplomacy. Speak to us directly, instead of just presenting strategic plans and economic initiatives meant to snag college graduates. Write in the pages of this newspaper and in those at other campuses. Make noise about staying in state, lots of it. Go to 20-somethings across the state and ask, in a measured tone, for us to stay. Attempt to persuade us, one afternoon and op-ed at a time. Of course, any public campaign without the backing of sound public policy will surely fail in the long run. But as it stands now, I and other students across the state could easily slip into other regions of the country without a second thought. I urge you, Lansing, to not let this happen. Craft sound policies, but don't stop there. Ask us to be role-players in the rebuilding of our Michigan. Remind us of where home is. Ask us to stay. Neil Tambe can be reached at ntambe@umich.edu. Printed from www.michigandaily.com on Sat, 29 Sep 2012 10:50:56 -0400

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Neil Tambe: Pre-public service

By Neil Tambe On September 19th, 2007 CORRECTION APPENDED: This column said erroneously that Gerald Ford was speaker of the House before becoming president. He was House minority leader and was then appointed vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned. Around these parts, when people say they live on the Hill, they're probably referring to their awkwardly small dorm room in Mary Markley Hall. But there's another hill neighborhood that many Wolverines have called home - Capitol Hill. Thanks to the University's position as one of the nation's leading universities, many graduates have managed to make their mark in Washington. Now, however, there are additional specific (if unstated) requirements for going into public service that the University doesn't seem to focus enough on. The environment at the University these days isn't conducive to ensuring that the public servants of tomorrow get their start in Ann Arbor. Wolverines have a strong presence in the capital. Though it's little known, the University has a government relations office in Washington that lobbies Congress on issues like higher education funding and intellectual property rights. The University's alumni club in D.C. is strong, active and proud. Many alumni from various academic backgrounds work in public service careers. However, public service is equally important regardless of whether it takes place in the glamour of D.C. or anywhere else across the nation or world. Although public service careers are often unattractive because of low pay or bureaucratic red tape, working in the public interest is fulfilling. Public service changes the world and provides for a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. This University has a long tradition of public service. Former President John F. Kennedy proposed the idea that would become the Peace Corps on the steps of the Michigan Union. Many alumni have become diplomats, esteemed civil servants or leaders in the non-profit realm. The late Gerald Ford, one of our most celebrated alumni, was the House minority leader before becoming being appointed Vice President after Spiro Agnew resigned. Make no mistake, this University's public servants are just as bad-ass as graduates from the medical school, business school and law school. University officials recognize the importance of public service and provide some excellent programs to accommodate public service-minded students. The Public Service Intern Program - which is run by the Career Center and with which I have worked in the past - helps students learn how to get summer internships, mainly in the nation's capital. The Michigan in Washington Program, which is run by the political science department, has semester-long programs for students to study and work in the capital. Another option for students interested in public work is application to the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy's undergraduate degree program. In its first year, the program is receiving rave reviews.

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Despite these excellent services, some programs are lacking. Study abroad programs, a viable first step toward a life of public service for many students, are a headache. The University's programs are relatively limited and some serious scheming is required to successfully transfer credits earned abroad. Learning other languages is another integral part of preparing for public service that is somewhat underemphasized at the University. Some languages that could be very handy for a public servant are taught in classes more unnecessarily difficult than others, and they are therefore often avoided. Besides that, the LSA language requirement structurally incentivizes the study of mainstream languages such as Spanish, French and German, allowing experienced students to finish their language requirement quickly. Thus, fewer students are motivated to learn new languages declared by the federal government to be of critical need, like Arabic, Mandarin and Farsi. Besides difficulties studying abroad and learning foreign languages, our International Studies minor is simply not up to par compared to international relations programs at other schools. The International Studies minor is more like a degree in culture than a major in international relations, which emphasizes international politics. It is a shame that the University is denying students by not offering such a major. Student interest in public service also suffers at the hands of politically extreme student groups that turn students off to politics instead of inspiring others to participate in the process. The moderate majority on campus could benefit from more partnership across the ideological divide. To all the wonks out there, check out www.electionreformproject.org, a project through which the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, two think-tanks generally regarded to be polar opposites, have teamed up to improve elections. A similar partnership is possible on this campus and would probably help new students engage in issues of public interest. We've all heard about pre-law, pre-business and pre-med programs. Let's add pre-public service to our vernacular and reinvigorate interest in a noble, exciting, crucially important career path. Neil Tambe can be reached at ntambe@umich.edu. Printed from www.michigandaily.com on Sat, 29 Sep 2012 11:10:59 -0400

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Neil Tambe: A student advocate

By Neil Tambe On October 17th, 2007 The most important decisions made at this University are ultimately decided by the infamous group known as the University Board of Regents. Think of the regents as a crew of eight sitting at the adult table at Thanksgiving, having influential discussions and making key decisions at the behest of stakeholders. None of the regents, who are elected in statewide elections, are current students. Students should not settle simply for a seat at the little kids table. When it comes to voting on University policies like approving Big House renovation plans or tuition hikes, direct representation of the student body is essential and valuable. We should advocate for the creation of a position specifically for students on the Board of Regents. The regents and University administration do have some avenues for student input, most notably through the appointment of students to advisory committees. The opportunity to serve on committees is valuable, but the debate and discussion about the regental decisions mostly happen behind closed doors at so-called executive sessions prior to the public meetings. The regents have public meetings monthly, but the votes cast at those meetings are practically formalities. To have genuine influence, students need representation at the meetings held behind the scenes. Several state university systems across the country have reaped benefits from having students represented on their boards. I recently talked to a student regent at the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. He told me that a few years ago, a student regent brought up the issue of textbooks to the board, resulting in the expedient creation of a textbooks task force. At the time, he said, the board did not understand the urgency of textbooks and that a student perspective on the board was helpful in acting quickly on the issue. Textbook prices have been an issue on our campus since at least 1998. Applying pressure directly to the regents would be more effective than having recommendations and proposals slowly percolate through an elaborate system of advisory committees. Perhaps the issue would have been addressed sooner if we had a student on our Board of Regents. One worry is that student regents would be uninterested or unqualified to address topics that are not related to student affairs. In an interview, a student regent from the University of California system dismissed that claim, saying that any decision made at a university affects students, even if some issues are of greater interest than others. Beyond that, the nature of governing boards is that there is always a specialization in issue areas amongst members, he said. There have been several efforts to create a student regent position for the University of Michigan
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since the late 1960s. In the late 1990s, the Michigan Student Assembly created the Student Regent

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since the late 1960s. In the late 1990s, the Michigan Student Assembly created the Student Regent Task Force to try mobilizing support for the idea. The difficulty is that creating a student regent position would require amending the Michigan state constitution. Amending the constitution is a difficult process, which requires approval on a statewide ballot. Securing a spot on a statewide ballot is difficult in itself. It is possible for a student to run for a position on the Board of Regents in a general election, but because of the rigors of modern elections, the chances of a successful statewide student campaign are slim. Students will only have ensured representation on the Board of Regents by creating a spot reserved for a current student. Even though the process would be difficult, it is possible. Many universities across the country, and in the Big Ten conference have student regents. Those schools faced the same obstacles that exist in Michigan and overcame them. Last month's rally in Lansing to show support for higher education funding illustrated that there is some capacity for grassroots mobilization and unity across campus lines that could be cultivated - a necessary component in any effort to create a student regent. At a time of continually rising tuition prices and controversy over regental decisions - like the alleged sequestering of public comments during regents' meetings - it is more important than ever to have a direct student voice on the University Board of Regents. Students bring a progressive, unique perspective to University issues. With a student regent as a liaison to the board, the regents would be better equipped to make University-wide decisions because the students' perspective would always be present. The regents and the University community have a relationship. The creation of a student regent would improve the relationship for the better. Neil Tambe can be reached at ntambe@umich.edu. Printed from www.michigandaily.com on Sat, 29 Sep 2012 10:52:48 -0400

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Getting out of the icebox

By Neil Tambe On March 7th, 2007 Pretend for a moment that you are handcuffed inside an icebox and you can't get out. You start yelling for help. Finally, someone comes to save you; he throws you a couple of blankets and continues on his way. Is this a useless solution to your trouble? Of course it is. It obviously would make much more sense for the savior to have help you out of the icebox. This logic can be analogized to service-oriented student groups on campus. Many of these organizations focus on ameliorating the side effects of a socially unjust plight, leaving the policies and institutions that create the injustice in the first place unchallenged. In other words, these organizations spend virtually all their efforts giving metaphorical icebox-prisoners blankets, instead of helping them out. Helping groups of people escape their iceboxes is necessary to alleviate society's social problems participating in political activity is a good example. The way public schools are funded strongly influences students' success rates. Health care policies affect what people will receive health insurance and what people will not. Fuel mileage standards and emissions requirements affect the amount we pollute and in turn affect global warming. Tax policies affect how business is conducted and what types of businesses will thrive. Political policies and social institutions matter. To change these structures it takes political activity, so we must take action to change political institutions and policies if they are not ideal. Raising money and volunteering is an essential step, but definitely not an adequate solution. Political action doesn't need to be revolutionary. Campus-based service groups don't have to organize a rally condemning the Federal Emergency Management Agency for its response to Hurricane Katrina or endorse political candidates according to their platform on global humanitarian aid - and they probably shouldn't. However, there is still room for campus organizations to become more politically minded. Organizations rarely spread significant amounts of knowledge about the broader issues affecting their areas of concern or even demonstrate that big-picture issues exist, let alone try to change them. For example, when was the last time Dance Marathon hosted an event regarding the millions of children in this country without health insurance? Buffalo Wild Wings fundraisers and Facebook groups aren't enough to make a significant impact for any organization. It's a shame that politics aren't brought up more often in service circles because service groups have the fantastic potential to foster political activity. They are extremely approachable, can raise large amounts of money and tend to have efficient organizational processes. Moreover, service-oriented organizations can draw large audiences with their issues.
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Who would be more likely to rabble-rouse in favor of more federal funding for cancer research than students involved in Relay for Life? These types of organizations are among the most respectable on campus, but its nonsensical that they don't try to help their members get more politically active. They might be the organizations best equipped to do so. Getting political doesn't have to be unsexy; it can involve participants outside of the College Republicans, College Democrats, Young Americans for Freedom and Students for a Democratic Society. Politics can enhance service models just as service experiences could make politicallybased organizations more sincere. Service activities and political activities are both essential for creating a more socially-just society, but both can fare better when combined with the other. Organizations on campus should strive to be politically and altruistically minded. Not many people doubt that social iceboxes exist or that there are people metaphorically trapped inside of them. Many students have spent many hours trying to reverse this uncomfortable truth by raising lots of money. Others have held numerous protests or spread petitions. It's time for these camps to combine tactics and create more social change than they already have. Neil Tambe is an LSA sophomore and a member of the Daily's editorial board Printed from www.michigandaily.com on Sat, 29 Sep 2012 11:10:04 -0400

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Making 'teamership' as important as leadership

By Neil Tambe On September 2nd, 2008 When I sing “The Victors” or read the University’s mission statement, I always think about how we might be missing the point. Both those pieces of Michigan rhetoric affirm the need for leadership, making it seem like leadership development is the major focus of the University. Leadership is obviously important, but our University is doing us a disservice by promoting leadership as a pancea without fully articulating the importance of teamwork. Why isn’t teamwork held up right next to leadership? Even though the problems faced by our parents’ generation were complicated, they weren’t as challenging as contemporary issues. For example, a major venture of the 1960’s was the Apollo space program. Putting people on the moon was an unprecedented challenge at the time. But it was also a challenge with a clearer beginning, middle and end. The challenges of yester-year were easier to think about because they were more concretely defined. Today we face problems with many layers of complexity, like terrorism and epidemics. Solving these problems requires high-capacity, high-functioning teams to solve. Individual leaders or groups of individual leaders aren’t equipped with the perspectives or problem-solving capabilities to tackle problems that don’t fit nicely into divisible categories and pieces. Strong teams are entities tailored to complex problem solving, because they rely on the expertise of more than one person. Teams can be as complex as the problems they are trying to tackle; individual leaders cannot. In addition to viewing leadership traditionally (as a property that individuals possess and use), our institution should emphasize the importance of adaptive, engaged and talented teams. Since the University aims to develop citizens that “challenge the present and enrich the future” — as written in the mission statement — helping cultivate team dynamics is desirable because it takes teams to improve societal ills, even though leaders are usually necessary as well. The University seems to recognize this to some degree, if the continuing effort to expand interdisciplinary research or the creation of the University Research Corridor is any indication. The effort to emphasize team development should also be adopted in student life initiatives. But there’s more to a team-based approach than gathering up a bunch of talented individuals and throwing them into the fire together. Teams have internal interactions. Teams play off one another when they brainstorm and strategize. Teams balance the strengths, weakness and perspectives of their members. The beauty of teams is that magical word, “synergy” — when the value of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. At the University, we should emphasize the great synergizing of teams just as we appreciate stellar leadership. In other words, let’s make leadership as important as teamership, because both skills are important
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to cultivate.

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to cultivate. It makes sense to think of teamership alongside leadership. Take football for example. There are many measures of individual performance in football. But determining the outcome of a football game by compiling quarterback ratings, tackles per player and 40-yard dash times would be absurd. It makes more sense to declare a winner by isolating a metric that accounts for the complexity of team dynamics: the final score. We should apply similar thinking to organizational life — it doesn’t make sense to implicitly declare leadership as the Holy Grail of competency. We solve our problems in teams, not as individuals. Sure, measures of individual capacity and developing leadership are important. But teamwork is at least as important but not emphasized as much. Leadership has long been paramount on our campus. Teamership deserves some of the limelight and resources too. Neil Tambe is an LSA senior. Printed from www.michigandaily.com on Sat, 29 Sep 2012 11:10:21 -0400

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Neil Tambe: Rallying the B.S.E.’s

By Neil Tambe On January 15th, 2009 Engineers get a bad rap on central campus. Some of us liberal arts majors claim they're overly arrogant, while others might mention a lack of sociability or even a disregard for contemporary style. I’m just as guilty of saying this as everyone else. Some of the accusations may be deserved — an “L, S and Play” degree really isn’t that easy compared to your engineering degree despite what you may think — but I think engineers are incredibly important and catch more flak than they deserve. I’m nearly convinced that if someone saves the world during our lifetime, it will be an engineer. Global issues like climate change, the spreading of disease, malnourishment, healthcare and information management are greatly impacted by engineering and the sciences. Engineers are making cars more efficient, figuring out how to build bridges and how to develop the next revolutionary materials. Engineers make things like space exploration, prosthetic limbs and personal computing possible. Engineering students — to say nothing of the incredible research that engineering faculty perform — are doing ridiculously awesome things on campus. They are building innovative solar and hybrid cars, human-powered helicopters and concrete canoes. With the help of the University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and the student group MPowered Entrepreneurship, engineering students are forming teams with people from other disciplines like Information or Business to start new ventures that may ultimately impact the state of Michigan, the United States and the world. Social, political and management problems like racism and terrorism matter, too. But there’s something fundamental about problems that engineers tackle because without adequate food, water, shelter and energy, it’s game over for humanity. Without the physical world around us functioning properly, it seems unlikely that social problems would be our most pressing need. It’s not a stretch to use the expression “lights out” if engineers fail to solve these gripping problems. The ability to profit from innovation is obvious. But it's too narrow-minded to think that profitability is the only reason to develop new technologies. Engineers have a civic duty to advance the public good because some societal problems certainly cannot be solved without their attention. But while they have the potential to encourage great social change, engineers may not be aware of their responsibility to do so. And, if they are, can they be expected to live up to such an obligation? I’ve spoken to more than a few engineers in the past few weeks about the possibility that they might save the world, and I always get one of two responses. The first is a wave of humility. Engineers always point out that engineering doesn’t matter on its own. They seem to be quite aware of the symbiotic relationship that engineers need with the rest of the professional world to solve problems. They mention that it takes political support from the political types and the inspiration to do good from the social justice and environmental types. Engineering students, as much as they publicly snub
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from the social justice and environmental types. Engineering students, as much as they publicly snub their noses at the students of liberal arts disciplines, appreciate the contribution that an English literature, anthropology or economics major can make when solving problems. The second response is a feeling of uncertainty. Do engineers believe they can save the world? I’m not so sure. Some that I’ve gotten to know might even be reluctant to accept this responsibility. Speaking to a few engineers at a luncheon last week, an engineer sitting near me mentioned that it's difficult to maintain a worldly perspective as an engineer because the disciplines in engineering are distinct and well-defined. But engineers, you have to believe. So do the rest of us. Whether or not engineers save the world, I think the work that they do is vital to our advancement as a society. We need everything from cleaner power to rehabilitative medicines and super-nifty computers, and engineers create those technologies. So even though a diversity of knowledge and training really helps in problem-solving, engineers have a special place in my heart. If you see an engineer today, I dare you to give them a high-five. Rally the B.S.E’s. Neil Tambe can be reached at ntambe@umich.edu. Printed from www.michigandaily.com on Sat, 29 Sep 2012 11:01:12 -0400

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Neil Tambe: The need for non-profits

By Neil Tambe On March 19th, 2009 In the summer of 2001, my cousin Nakul was bitten by a mosquito. Because of that mosquito bite, he contracted Dengue fever, a disease that causes fever, severe headaches, muscle and joint pain. He died within days after suffering tremendously. In the end, his body crackled like fire. I’ve been told by relatives who were at the hospital in India during his passing that while he was suffering in a state of delirium, all he could muster up the energy to do was whimper for an apple. I think about him almost daily, for many reasons. I don’t bring up the circumstances surrounding his death as a sob story meant to inspire some group of people to rally behind a campaign to prevent vector-borne diseases. I don’t mention it as a way to honor him — Nakul contracted the first case of Dengue fever in his area of India, which allowed medical professionals to act quickly in subsequent cases and save many lives — or as a way for me to come to terms with his death. I bring him up as one vivid, narrow example of the utterly terrible things that can happen to a person. I bring him up to argue one point: don’t stop donating. Non-profit organizations make a world of difference in solving social problems. We need non-profit organizations to serve community needs that businesses and government cannot (or will not) address. If there had been better medical facilities or public health initiatives in India, for example, Nakul might be alive today. There are many examples of non-profits making a difference in the communities they serve, whether it’s the work of organizations that provide after-school programs for high school students or humanitarian aid to countries ravaged by war. If we are at all capable of financially supporting non-profits, we have a social responsibility to do so even during times of economic downturn because of the impact they have on the individual communities they serve and on society as a whole. Most of us here are probably financially stable enough to support non-profits, even if we have immediate family members who are unemployed or are burdened with student loans. If you have enough money to go out on a Friday night, order one less beer and give the money you saved to your favorite charity via an online donation or to the kid bucketing outside at 2 a.m. A college student who owns a cell phone, iPod or working television has more wealth than much of the world’s population. There are people in the world who need the $10 bill in our pockets more than we do. For most, choosing not to donate money to non-profit organizations is more often due to an absence of commitment than an absence of cash. If you can make a donation to a non-profit organization — even a small one — the organization will appreciate it. Tough economic times are when non-profits need the most support. But if you can’t make a substantial donation, there are many other ways to support the missions of non-profits. Consider volunteering on a committee or board of a non-profit organization that inspires you.
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On campus, it’s even easier to volunteer time and energy. You could volunteer to be a moraler dancers at the University of Michigan Dance Marathon this weekend or attend the Luminaria ceremony at Relay for Life in two weeks. If community service is your thing, participate in the Detroit Partnership’s service day or one of their many weekly opportunities. Will Work for Food, a non-profit organization started by students at the University that provides an innovative model for raising funds and serving one’s own community simultaneously, is another worthy charity. I’ll never know if Nakul’s life would have been saved if there had been stronger public health nonprofits in India. But it’s not about me; there are better reasons to have a stake in the success of nonprofit organizations. Non-profits make crucial contributions to our locale, nation and world. But they’ll never get the chance to make a difference if we walk away from funding them. Neil Tambe can be reached at ntambe@umich.edu Printed from www.michigandaily.com on Sat, 29 Sep 2012 11:10:26 -0400

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Ecology Center pressures Dow

By Neil Tambe Daily Staff Reporter On November 2nd, 2005 Corrections: A story in Wednesday's edition of the Daily (Ecology center pressures Dow) incorrectly stated that Dow Chemical has agreed to remove dioxins from the Midland area. It should have said Dow has agreed to reduce exposure to the dioxins. The same article, instead of saying "Garabrant said the study's goal is to discover the best possible method to clean up the chemicals," should have said: "The study's goal is to find whether dioxins in the soils get into people's bodies and is therefore harmful, and, if so, how this happens."

Several thousand paper fish may soon make a 66-mile journey from Ann Arbor to Lansing in an attempt by Ann Arbor's Ecology Center to alert state lawmakers of the urgency of dioxin contamination in Midland, Michigan. Volunteers from the center encouraged students to sign a petition and write their name on paper fishes as a symbolic sign of protest last Friday. The center plans to lobby the state government about dioxin pollution in Midland and its surrounding watershed which hurts the fish and those living in the surrounding area. The pollution is allegedly the result of Dow Chemical's dumping of toxic waste byproducts into the water. Because Dow is currently in the preliminary stages of cleaning up the dioxins, the center hopes that the signatures it is collecting will force Gov. Jennifer Granholm to focus on ensuring the cleanup of the chemicals. So far, the center has collected 2,000 signatures toward its goal of 5,000. Dioxins are carcinogenic byproducts of various industrial and nonindustrial processes. They are known for their negative effects on the development of children and on the immune system. Dow officials have said in the past that the company released dioxins into the air and the nearby Tittabawassee River until the 1950s, although the timeline of when Dow began halting dioxin production in the area is still disputed by state officials. While Dow has agreed to reduce exposure to the dioxins from the area, in the past decade, some residents of Midland and environmental activists have pressured Dow to guarantee it will clean up the dioxin pollution. According to Ecology Center Director Mae Stevens, the affected area spans 20 miles along the Tittabawassee in Midland and into the Saginaw Bay watershed, Michigan's largest.
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She added that contaminated areas have concentrations as high as 16,000 parts per trillion. In most circumstances, Michigan residential guidelines regarding dioxins recommend cleanup when levels of the chemical reach 90 parts per trillion. The average for 68 other locations tested in Michigan is only 6.339 parts per trillion. "(Dow) has accepted responsibility in large part," said John Musser, a Dow official. Musser added that dioxin dumping is a thing of the past and that Dow now produces virtually no dioxins. Dow is obligated to shoulder the cost of the cleanup, said Robert McCann, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He added that Dow is currently conducting the first steps of the cleanup, which include measures to prevent public exposure and alerting homeowners in affected areas. Dow began its efforts at the beginning of this year, placing the highest priority on severely flooded areas on the riverbank, Musser said. He added that Dow must submit a comprehensive plan to clean up the dioxins to the DEQ by the end of this year before the cleanup process can begin. The cleanup does not have a timeline yet, but McCann said Dow would probably have the cleanup effort well underway before the company's current state-issued operating license expires in early 2013. Musser said a timeline for the cleanup could be set as early as the end of the year, as soon as their plan is approved and underway. But not all parties find Dow's efforts satisfactory. "They're dragging their feet," said Tracey Easthope, who directs the Ecology Center's Environmental Health Project. In response to the possibility that dioxins may have contaminated Midland residents' homes, Dow has conducted carpet and furnace duct cleaning, general dusting and landscaping to cover exposed soil. But Easthope said the measures are only superficial and do not eliminate the dioxins at their source. "People don't need a maid service," Easthope said. "Unless you get the source, you are going to recontaminate the house." But Musser said Dow is waiting on the results of several studies that will examine the dioxin levels and their effects in lieu of taking immediate action on the issue. "It's just premature to be talking about specific actions to be taken," he said. Some environmentalists have called on Dow to begin cleaning up the river immediately. But Musser said that "to dredge the river would be very disruptive and would be very devastating to that ecology, and we don't think that would be a good response at any level." One study on the effect of the dioxins is being headed by the University. Led by Environmental Health Sciences Prof. David Garabrant, research teams have investigated the dioxin levels in homes,
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soil and dust in contaminated areas since the summer of 2004. The study's goal is to find whether dioxins in the soils get into people's bodies and is therefore harmful, and, if so, how this happens. "This research is going to address a critically important problem in the Midland and Saginaw area on a scientific, factual basis to assess the meaning of the problem and help people move forward," he said. Some have questioned the impartiality of the study because Dow allocated $10 million to fund the project. But Garabrant argues it is completely independent because Dow has no authority over the study. "There's a tremendous amount of protection against outside interference," he said, adding that Dow only has access to public information from the study. Garabrant's team hopes to release the results by next fall. Michigan State University and the University of Missouri are also conducting studies related to the issue. Musser said Dow has spent $30 million on studies and preliminary response efforts. Among students, there is a variety of opinions about the situation. Engineering freshman Seifu Chonde, whose parents are Dow employees, has lived in Midland his whole life. He said Dow has provided jobs for many people in the area. "Dow has made (Midland) a more respectable city," he said. LSA freshman Anna Lammers, who supports the Ecology Center's efforts, said she hopes they will open Granholm's eyes to the urgency of the situation. "It all drains into Lake Huron," LSA freshman Geoff Perrin said. "It's pretty much everyone's problem." Printed from www.michigandaily.com on Sat, 29 Sep 2012 11:09:44 -0400

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Life after Coke: Area feels effects

By Neil Tambe Daily Staff Reporter On January 11th, 2006 In addition to drying the mouths of Coke lovers across campus, the University's suspension of Coca-Cola products will likely have an impact on regional Coca-Cola employees. Responding to pressure from campus activist groups that allege the company has committed civil rights and environmental injustices in India and Colombia, the University decided last month to temporarily suspend its contracts with the company. The University's supply of the beverage is bottled at a plant in Detroit and distributed across Southeast Michigan by way of a distribution center in Van Buren. The University purchases over 80,000 cases of Coke products each year, according to Percy Wells, spokesman for Michigan's Coca-Cola bottling company. The total yearly bill comes out to about $1.4 million. Wells said the decrease in sales resulting from the contract suspension will have an immediate impact on the bottling company. "The decision only affects Michigan jobs, Michigan workers and local Michigan families," Wells said. Gordie Johnston, a Coca-Cola truck driver, said he believes jobs will be affected over the long term if the contract is not renewed. "When (students) are at full swing, they go through a lot of pop," he said. Coke sells syrup to independent bottling plants, which then produce and distribute the cola. "Coca-Cola does not sell or distribute anything in North America," Wells said. "It's distributed by local bottlers." Michigan's bottling company employs about 2,000 people, 64 percent of whom are unionized. The local union, called Teamsters Local 337, boasts a membership of about 560. Delivery workers are entirely unionized and the commission sales staff is non-union. According to Wells, employees come from all walks of life and include college students, urbanites, blue-collar and white-collar workers.
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"Everyone needs a job, no matter what position they are working in," he said. In addition to bottlers working at the plant, the loss of sales could affect everyone from salaried salespeople, who make $40,000 to $50,000 per year, to delivery truck drivers earning about $19 per hour, Wells said. The reduction in sales would likely affect drivers with less seniority first because delivery routes are assigned first to employees with seniority. Drivers without products to deliver would be sent home that day without full pay. The University plans to resume its contracts if the company agrees to an third-party investigation in Colombia. Coca-Cola officials argue that locally-produced beverages are not linked to the operations in India and Colombia. A letter to the University from Coca-Cola signed Dec. 19 said, "Banning Coca-Cola products at the University of Michigan will not affect the bottlers in Colombia or India, which are distinctly separate companies." University Spokeswoman Julie Peterson said only retailers who purchase through the University will no longer sell Coke, such as University buildings, residence halls, hospitals and convenience stores. Third-party retailers with independent contracts will continue to sell the cola. Vending machines will be allowed to sell remaining Coca-Cola products but will not be refilled. Generic machines will be filled with alternate products, but machines with the Coca-Cola logo will remain empty. Printed from www.michigandaily.com on Sat, 29 Sep 2012 11:09:41 -0400

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