OCCUPY HIGHER EDUCATION  5:27 pm January 27, 2012

Obama Says College Will Be Affordable Again One Day, Maybe

by Arielle Fleisher

Go Blue?Greetings old friends! It’s your Wonkabout on Special Assignment for your Wonkette to report on Obama’s college affordability speech at the University of Michigan where she just happens to be doing some learning of her own these days. So what did our dear President have to say to a crowd of hopeless college students hungover from Thirsty Thursday about why their education now costs 16 kajillion dollars?

As opposed to ???

Because of our nation’s current financial unpleasantness, the cost of a college education has skyrocketed. The American higher educational system is nice and broken as most college students now use their fancy four-year degree to work behind the counter at their local Burgers-R-Us, a job that a they could have gotten with a high school diploma. And the kids seem to be a bit upset that all the learning they did in Lady Studies has earned them negative $70,000, when, all along, they should have been learning how to subsist off biscuits and earning just $17 a day like our Chinese overlords.

But the lesson is no longer “Save your money, do not go to college.” Huzzah! Obama is now going to fix education by borrowing a slogan from GMC, the car company that we gave billions to, for sucking.

Now that your Wonkabout is learning again, she’s working on her summarizing and note-taking abilities. So what is Obama’s sinister socialist plot to make college more affordable? Extend the tuition tax credit, double the number of work-study jobs in the next five years, steer federal campus-based aid to those colleges that keep tuition affordable, and start a Race to The Top for college affordability. Will this work? Is this a good solution? Your Wonkabout has no idea! She’s learning how to improve the health of the public and, shamefully, there are no numbers in that. But sure! College students everywhere thank Obama for finally paying attention to this issue nine months before the election. You may now stop occupying everything, but, uh, continue to live in fear of Sallie Mae, at least for the time being, while we wait to see if this actually passes.

This is the most important man in Michigan, we think.

Go blue, or something like that.

THE END

 

Hola wonkerados.

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{ 153 comments }

nounverb911 January 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Just don't hold your breath until it happens.

Maman January 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Yeah, I am assuming that this plan will skip over my 17 and 15 year olds college careers. ugh.

chicken_thief January 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm

I pretty sure it won't do squat for my daughter who graduated last year. Or for my empty bank account/loans I have to pay for her edumacation.

Chillwillard January 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm

This is good news for Rick Santorum.

nounverb911 January 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Why? He'll just make his kids go to West Point and stick us with the bill.

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Perhaps not all of us. He may have figured out a scheme to make the Penn Hills school district pay for his kids college in Virginia too.

SorosBot January 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Why does Obama want 62 percent of "children" to leave without their faith conviction?

Biff January 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Don't they have a Homeschool U?

Jim Newell January 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm

HI ARIELLE! Come back to Washington, I miss you terribly.

horsedreamer_1 January 27, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Still at Gawker? How's Daulerio treating ye?

edgydrifter January 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Obama's grand education compromise with Congress: tuition grants for everybody, but only at approved Bible colleges, and no homos need apply.

Loaded_Pants January 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Everyone will have to attend No Homo U.

Barb January 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Newt and Mitt think we should all attend Screw U.

Beowoof January 27, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Why Newt is really good at screwing you literally, and Mitt is the man screwing you when it comes to figuratively. This is a total win.

beavertank January 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Giving you a unique form of double penetration, if you will.

flamingpdog January 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I took my most favoritest college classes at the College of Fairy and Mary in Phuckem Hall. That was the administration's policy toward the students, too, also.

savethispatient January 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Technically Newt thinks we should pick up some light Janitorial work at Screw U first.

bflrtsplk January 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm

We all already go to Screw U. and, let me tell ya, the meat loaf they serve in the cafeteria on Wednesdays tastes like the first puck used in the old Boston Garden.

Barb January 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm

I upfist your hockey reference! Will you be watching the All Star game?

bflrtsplk January 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Wouldn't think of doing anything else.

snackypants January 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I think Newton and Mittens should both go to Eff U.

Not_So_Much January 27, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Proud(?) Alum right here!

johnnyzhivago January 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

College turns Americans into French speaking Aetheist Gay European Socialists – or worse.

Although I cannot think of anything worse at this moment.

edgydrifter January 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

How about blah French-speaking atheist gay European socialists?

Chillwillard January 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm

So it turns you into an Atheist Romney? I can't think of anything worse either…

SorosBot January 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Hello again, Arielle!

If colleges were to cut tuition to become more affordable, then how could they afford the six-figure salaries for their administrators, and seven-figure salaries for their coaches? We've got to think of the welfare of the minor-league sports teams with unpaid players that America's universities are adjuncts to!

unclejeems January 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

At Tennessee, we always tried to be a school worthy of our football team.

Beowoof January 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Well if start in a Community College, you may be able to get by with just owing your first born to the bank.

C_R_Eature January 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm

"Knowledge is Good."

nounverb911 January 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm

"Greed is Gooder."

smokefilledroommate January 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm

"Gluttony is Goodest?"

nounverb911 January 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Is that Chris Chrispies campaign slogan?

C_R_Eature January 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm

"Sloth is…aw, forget it…."

flamingpdog January 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Cuba is Gooding, Jr.?

smokefilledroommate January 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Guns don't kill people, Mario Van Peebles!

SorosBot January 27, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Lust is the most fucking fun.

nounverb911 January 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Can I still get a scholarship to Wazzamatta U?

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm

They saw what the University of Paris did, having divided campuses Paris I, Paris II, Paris III, etc., and they did the same thing.

But I hear the only one of the Wazzamatta campuses that is any good is IV.

flamingpdog January 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm

I obtained my Third Degree at Whatsamatta U.

HistoriCat January 28, 2012 at 12:45 am

Miskatonic U or GTFO be devoured.

Chichikovovich January 28, 2012 at 8:05 am

Miskatonic is going to be the hot college in the next decade, when news of their cadaver revival project gets out.

smokefilledroommate January 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Nice pic of Sallie Mae and Freddie Mac there at the end.

flamingpdog January 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Doh!

flamingpdog January 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I thought that was Sallie Mae and Bernie Mac in that pic.

RIP, Bernie.

johnnyzhivago January 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Allowing homeschoolers to earn PhD's would be a good start towards college affordability. That and eliminating the expensive "classes" and "instruction" and focusing on the moneymaking sports.

Biel_ze_Bubba January 28, 2012 at 6:47 am

America needs more Ph.D.s like Prof. Gingrich, and that would be an excellent way to get them.

meatlofer January 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Well! The world needs Ditchdiggers too,you know!

flamingpdog January 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Is that Sallie Mae that the smiling blah dude has his hand on?

Wonderthing January 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

"Hey young people! Beeble babble buzz, hope, greeb greeb, angry at me, don't be, whix whix whix, trolls live under bridges and will eat you, ninch, ninch, ninch, I will kiss your cheek if you vote for me and everything will be almost free, except for the slightly unsightly fee. Thenkyewvarrymooch."

TeaNuts January 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

My son says that this tuition thingy is cutting into his beer and drug funds. Something about graduating Cum Alotta. Not sure bout these high falluton things.

chascates January 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

How about just awarding degrees to people like myself? A simple bachelor's degree in some easy humanities subject (history, literature) will allow me to enjoy my unemployment even more!

Negropolis January 27, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Yep, when you're living under a freeway overpass, you'll be able to appreciate better the fine street art.

Biff January 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm

reagan destroyed my higher-education goals. Better luck to you, Arielle!

MissTaken January 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Paying for tuition is why Jeebus invented stripper poles.

SorosBot January 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm

And hey your P-ness has gotten bigger! It's also all symmetrical now.

MissTaken January 27, 2012 at 7:38 pm

1-1-1!

flamingpdog January 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Even though I haven't lived in teh D.C. since 1975, I miss Wonkabout, Arielle. Did you leave our benevolent overlord Ken Layne because he wouldn't up your pay to angry muffins and $18.75 a day?

Chillwillard January 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm

You know what? I'm happy to be a Liberal college grad with $40K in debt and not some ignorant blue-collar Wingnut.

littlebigdaddy January 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm

That is one ugly-ass assembly hall or auto shop or whatever.

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm

[No snark - just 100% solid true facts] It's the indoor football facility – actually quite an impressive facility, as such things go, and attractive. The pictures don't do it justice.

It gives a glimpse into the business of college sports (and U. of M. is far from the football-craziest school. Not in the Alabama/LSU league at all). U of M. already had a completely covered indoor field turf football field that was built in 1980. But apparently its roof wasn't quite high enough for the punters to practice. And it looked a bit dingy after 30 years, and football recruits seemed to like the more luxurious ones at other places better. Plus all the other sports like soccer and baseball kept wanting to use it. So they raised (a lot of!) money to build another one. It's big, since football fields are 100 yards long to begin with, plus endzones, plus wide sidelines so that people don't get injured in collisions with the walls, plus seating areas etc.

After all, a university's gotta have at least *two* completely enclosed, climate controlled, playable football fields, at least one of which has a roof high enough that even the strongest punter couldn't hit it, right? That's what Erasmus would have expected.

littlebigdaddy January 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Yeah, my u has something similar, although we are down the food chain from the big M.

PuckStopsHere January 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I call bullshit. UM just spent 7 mill on lights for the goddamn football stadium. Which, said lights that is, are used exactly once per year. Yes, this is an institution with its priorities straight all right.

Biel_ze_Bubba January 28, 2012 at 6:55 am

No problem … just raise the tuition. The kids borrow more to cover it, and presto — problem solved!

Eventually, 99% of their alumni will be broke and unable to donate, but I guess they're not thinking that far ahead.

Chichikovovich January 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm

University tuition is so high it's insane and unsustainable, you'll get no argument from me on that, and UM is no different. And I don't agree with all of UM's priorities. But I don't think this is an example. The football program is self-supporting, and paid for the lights out of its own revenues and donations. Also, they just have one night football game a year (plus a handful of 3:30 games that require lights by the end), but there are various regular errands I have that bring me to drive by the stadium at night, and the lights are often on. Not sure what is going on inside, though sometimes I hear strains of the band practicing.

coolhandnuke January 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Wow, Malcolm-Jamal Warner is a Wolverine.

Extemporanus January 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm

WULVEREENZ!

littlebigdaddy January 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Timeout! Wait a second, no no! Ah shit!!!!!!!!!! lulz

smokefilledroommate January 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm

The chair is against the wall.

Sharkey January 27, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Props to the (momentary?) return of Arielle!!!

BarackMyWorld January 27, 2012 at 6:01 pm

The American taxpayer sure hates paying for things that are good for the country.

OneYieldRegular January 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Can't we for once do something decently French like make college education free to those who qualify? Or at least be able to buy croissants that aren't the size, texture and flavor of catcher's mitts?

Rotundo_ January 27, 2012 at 6:20 pm

When they really apply themselves, American bakers can make a half assed attempt at a croissant that you can find on any Parisian streetcorner. Hot chocolate and a couple of those with some unsalted butter put me in a state of bliss for chump change. Baguettes were the same sort of thing. You can buy the flour from there, import the oven, cadge the recipes, steal the yeast, the whole nine yards, but it just is not the same. I don't know if it's antique ovens, cranky people making the stuff, or just freakin' magic, but it just cannot be reproduced by people in the states.

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Very true. When I'm working in Paris for any length of time, I usually lose about ten pounds even though I'm eating better than I ever do. A big part of that is that for breakfast I'm perfectly happy with a double coffee, a hunk of baguette and a chunk of vieux cantal.

OneYieldRegular January 27, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I've lost weight there too. Once in Paris for a glorious extended amount of time, I counted the number of stairs I took going up and down the steps of the Metro and to my sixth-floor walk-up room, etc., and it averaged out to something like 850 per day. So that – and the fact that the French don't tolerate (or allow into their food supply) crap like high fructose corn syrup, artificial growth hormones, and chili cheese dogs – might have something to do with it.

Biff January 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm

It IS free for the offspring of the wealthy, just get your parents to spring for it.

MissTaken January 27, 2012 at 6:06 pm

As if you weren't my best customer.

SorosBot January 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Wait that was you? I guess I didn't recognize you without you stage name; wasn't it DDDesyre?

MissTaken January 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm

No, DDDesyre was the girl I experimented with in college. My stage name was TickleTits.

Chillwillard January 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Get a room, you two!

SorosBot January 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Sorry I thought of a good response to this but it looks like we've annoyed someone.

MissTaken January 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Yup, so I've now moved on to Coach Mark Dantonio's cross-dressing ways.

Chillwillard January 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Not at all, just giving you a hard time! Besides, I'm not the one who started the "rumors"…I'll leave you two alone now…

HistoriCat January 28, 2012 at 12:48 am

He didn't say anything about closing the curtains …

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm

The beaming young man in the bottom photo (that big smile is apparently the only facial expression he has) is Denard Robinson, who plays some incomprehensible (i.e. non-hockey) sport involving oblong inflated bladders for the University of Michigan. Standing next to him is Mark Dantonio, who coaches that same sport for Michigan State Agricultural College.

flamingpdog January 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I just love the shade of lipstick Mark Dantonio is wearing. And the 'do!

MissTaken January 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I really should ask Mark Dantonio where he got those lovely earrings. They really bring out his eyes.

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Thanks for the comments, guys. Keep it up. Negropolis will be here eventually and he'll love them.

comrad_darkness January 27, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Well I learned something today. I thought that was Desmond Howard. And no, all black people do not look alike to me. Just all black football players from Michigan. Big difference.

Look look. Help me out here. http://studentaffairs.umich.edu/files/sa/styles/c

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm

You're right about that. The resemblance is uncanny, especially because if you look at either of them without wearing sunglasses, the reflected light off the tooth enamel causes temporary blindness.

Negropolis January 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Senatress Debbie Stabenow (D-Stabs) and Spartan Libel!

BTW, she has lost A LOT of weight, something you don't see too often of incumbent politicians not seeking a higher office.

flamingpdog January 28, 2012 at 1:02 am

Um, when teh oldz, like Debbie (and the pdog), lose a LOT of weight, it sometimes goes along with the cancer. I hope she's OK.

Negropolis January 28, 2012 at 2:32 am

No, it was a change in diet and exercize. She's really never spoken about it, but I have a feeling it's a big F-U to her ex-husband, who cheated on her with some random Metro Detroit hooker. After she dropped his ass, the weight started coming off.

Chichikovovich January 28, 2012 at 8:08 am

That's Debbie Stabenow??? Holy Cow. I heard she lost weight, but that's simply astonishing.

ifthethunderdontgetya January 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Obama: As soon as J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs and Boeing and Lockheed Martin stop wanting so much money, we can afford to help you pay for college.

Hope and Change, Amen!
~

DahBoner January 27, 2012 at 11:19 pm

How educated do you need to be to be a Drone Joystick Jockey?

At least they let them weat flight suits, like the real pilots, who can die, etc.

A good meth dealer is better than a Harvard MBA for LockMartBoing…

Mumbletypeg January 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Heh. "Save your money, don't go to college" is the new "Spending* the money I still don't make to put into an IRA like Dad recommended I 'start while I'm young.' "

* on stuff like, staying fed and propping a roof over my unwashed, overeducated head.

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm

One word: plastics.

Mumbletypeg January 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm

"Teh Graduate" FTW~

SayItWithWookies January 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

This might not be as direct a way to exert pressure on schools as it might seem, since many colleges are dependent on state aid to keep their tuitions down, and that's been slashed in a lot of places. It might give colleges and state governments some incentive to work together, though, in states that are partial to education. But really, kids today don't have to worry — after our industries import all their PhDs from India for cheap, Americans students can move to Bangalore and fill the call center jobs that'll be opening up.

And hi Arielle! Don't let all that shit I just said get you down. Even if it turns out to be true.

imissopus January 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm

"On Special Assignment…" As if there was something better to do in Michigan, in January.

Pres.Beeblebrox January 27, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Drink and/or smoke some delicious marywanna? This is Ann Arbor, after all.

flamingpdog January 27, 2012 at 8:53 pm

How about stringing up Rick Snyder and setting him on fire? You could at least warm your hands up.

Negropolis January 27, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Please, January is when the state is the most active. Ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing/snow boarding, winter festivals…none of which I do, but you guys can keep that thing you call the sun.

Pragmatist2 January 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Here's the truth:
Half the people I went to college with should not have gotten out of high school.
Of the rest, half were either on the path to a life time of substance abuse or were narcissists, socially maladjusted, or just plain whacko. So maybe having people not be able to go to college is not such a bad thing.

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 6:48 pm

And that was just the faculty!

flamingpdog January 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm

One vital function of college that is often overlooked is that it keeps College Republicans and YAFers out of the rest of society for four* years.

*or five, now that college students are all slackers.

rocktonsam January 27, 2012 at 10:14 pm

so where will we get lawyers from then?

Bluestatelibel January 27, 2012 at 6:37 pm

The secret to an affordable college education is to have really rich parents, duh. The other alternative is to take out tens of thousands in student loans, default, and move to Europe*
*A friend of mine actually did this; they will not catch you.

starfanglednut January 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Note to self: Move to Europe in May.

BZ1 January 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Do Repubs value higher education? or just revel in the "school of hard knocks" experience?

DahBoner January 27, 2012 at 11:15 pm

No, most Republicans are sons of rich Mexicans, so they can bribe teachers for good grades…

Mojopo January 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Thanks much for covering this, I guess. A very wonderful person from my hometown hosted this, and I've enjoyed checking on photos on her sister's FB wall for a couple of days. Kids waited in a long line to be there today, and they were really excited! And come on – every tiny glimmer of hope helps at this point. Something. Anything?

chicken_thief January 27, 2012 at 7:00 pm

"….steer federal campus-based aid to those colleges that keep tuition affordable…."

Before I start getting all happy and shit about this, could we define "affordable"?

Fare la Volpe January 27, 2012 at 7:07 pm

If any of you Wonketteers out there could find it in your hearts to help a nubile young college grad pay off some student loans, I'll just let you know that I have bitchin' legs, a thong, and a willingness to relocate.

Loaded_Pants January 27, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Do you house clean?

Fare la Volpe January 27, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Clothed, nude, or apron-only.

flamingpdog January 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I'd hook you up with my well-paid, fully-employed son in Seattle, but you'd have to get in line. On the other hand, I have a step-nephew who apparently is no longer in a relationship with his quite wealthy partner in East Asia. Willing to relocate to Singapore?

Chichikovovich January 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Can you tutor a fifteen year old student in high school math who needs outside-the-family help because he won't listen to anything his father says about anything, even though the father has a PhD in mathematics?

Not that I know anybody like that, or anything. Just idle curiosity.

horsedreamer_1 January 27, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Hello. Is it Arielle you're looking for?

vulpes82 January 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Yes, he should just continue to ignore it (which he didn't, since he's work on college loan reform, etc. for a while) because he's campaigning. Really, what does it MATTER if he's trying to pander?! If he gets anything done at all it's better than nothing, and if he only does it to get votes, well, that's a politician's job. I hate this bullshit that unless Obama does something FOR THE RIGHT REASONS he's a monster. It doesn't work like that.

Callyson January 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm

One of the (many!) most despicable things about the Reeps is that they claim to support hard work and success…until it comes to education.
Tax cuts for businesses – good!
Tuition cuts (or, hell, just prevention of yet more tuition hikes) – bad!

littlebigdaddy January 27, 2012 at 9:15 pm

OT: Dan "Schweddy" Balz just used the image of Gingrich imploding. Bring on the brain bleach.

PuckStopsHere January 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Did Barack say, "Fuck Michigan and fuck Brady Hoke, too?" Cause if he didn't, I don't want to hear it.

Negropolis January 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Can I be honest? I watched the entire thing, and while optically, it looked good, substance-wise? Yeah, it was all over the place, to the point that the segues were so bad that parts of the speech simply didn't make any sense. Very incoherent. So, when I saw the media raving over it, I was confused. It felt like he was phoning it in. Nice liberal talking points scattered through-out, but very little to connect them. I was really kind of disappointed. He raised his voice and yelled at all of the right places, but that was about it.

Maybe, it was because it was down in Ann Arbor, but I didn't get it. The irony of giving this speech at UofM, too, is that it's so self-funded or funded by other sources than the government, that it's practically a private university, now, in everything but name.

flamingpdog January 28, 2012 at 1:11 am

is that it's so self-funded or funded by other sources than the government, that it's practically a private university, now, in everything but name.

It's pretty much the same at the University of Colorado. In fact, a lot of Republiklans in the Square State legislature have proposed taking it completely private.

Negropolis January 28, 2012 at 2:29 am

Same here. Michigan has already cut education — K through university — more than most other states over the last decade and the current one, and Dems and Republicans, alike, have proposed stopping funding UofM, further putting it out of reach. This nation is just crazy.

Chichikovovich January 28, 2012 at 9:32 am

[Long reply - I'll need to break it into three posts.]
Edit – oops – I should have said four posts.
At this point the state education funding is a small increment of the UM budget – 17% if you don't include the medical complex, as little as 6% if you do – compared to around 80% in the 1960s. U of M. is financially a lot better off than Berkeley, a comparable school in a comparable situation as far as state aid is concerned, because the administration under Pres. Duderstadt saw this coming and started energetically fundraising with the enormous alumni base long before things hit crisis levels. (Duderstadt was unpopular when he was Pres. – or so I'm told, it was before my time here – but he looks pretty good in hindsight.) ["enormous alumni base" in the sense that there are a lot of alumni, not in the sense that there is a base of enormous alumni, though in fact some of them are rather Gringrichian.] A lot of the alumni have done well for themselves and feel warmly toward the place – some of them are billionaires (Stephen Ross, Walgreen, Taubman, Zell, Larry Page, …) and so private donations have more than covered the fall in state support. (Alumni support weakened a little with the recession, and the Bush stock market crash took a bit out of the endowment, but as the economy and stock market recover, donations/endowment are recovering too.)

But the situation is creating an identity crisis for UM, as they become less and less, from a financial point of view, a "state school". (And not just direct state funding, but also in other ways: as the state is slashing its tuition support and merit scholarships for Michigan high school students, alumni are making up part of the lost ground by donating money for scholarships – but those scholarships are generally open to all students, not just Michigan high school students.)

I don't think the result of further cuts in state support will be to put Michigan "further out of reach" in the sense that it will push tuition up all that much, just because I don't think it's possible to raise tuition any more. Students can't afford it as it is. (Well, that's what I and the rest of the faculty think. The administrators sometimes act as if this is a well that will never run dry.) More likely, it seems to me, is that the university and the state will work out some deal to increase the number of out of state students, who pay private-school level tuition. That will increase tuition revenue without increasing tuition levels as such, but it will have the cost (an enormous cost, IMO) of further diluting the character of UM as a university whose mission is primarily to educate Michigan young people.

Chichikovovich January 28, 2012 at 10:27 am

Speaking just for myself (with the usual warning that I can be pretty clueless about things like this) I think a much greater threat to the UM connection to Michigan at large is the actions and attitudes of the Calvinist theocrats who dominate the State legislature and keep taking the Attorney-General slot. Recall when one of Cox's little minions Shirvell – a lawyer working for the Attorney General, for Christ's sake! – started cyber-stalking and cyber-harassing a UM student, for being gay, and Cox first pulled the "that's his private life/ free speech" dodge for as long as he could before the outcry became such a political liability that Cox had no choice but to fire his ass. Bad enough that Cox wouldn't fire the guy until he had to, but just as important is what it tells you about Cox's obsessions that this guy could get hired in the first place. Presumably it wasn't obvious in the interview that this guy was a stalker, but it must have been obvious that Ave Maria "Law School" grad Shirvell had an obsession about what he called on his blog "the cult that is homosexuality", and Cox was not only A-OK with that but regarded it as a job credential. The Shirvell business was in itself an isolated, strange event, but it said a lot about what the Michigan AG is all about.

Witness the ongoing fixation on denying domestic partner benefits. First there was the "referendum on marriage". I remember hearing radio ads repeated at saturation level and getting robo-calls by the dozens insisting that "it's not about benefits, it's about how much we lurves us some traditional marriage". Drafters of the referendum saying that people who pointed to the preposterously broad language of the proposition as endangering benefits were engaging in "scare tactics". And so on. After it passes, the AG moves to sue to block partner benefits, within a week. Within the week – making it clear that the case had to have been in preparation long before the vote came down, while all the "scare tactics" remarks were being made.

Really – you expect politicians to be cynical and dishonest, but this was a level of cynicism and dishonesty that was astonishing. It was as if they wanted to make it clear that they had been knowingly deceiving voters all along about partner benefits, so as to turn the knife and make it clear just how delighted they were to be sticking it to those evil gays. The legal equivalent of an endzone touchdown celebration.

Chichikovovich January 28, 2012 at 11:51 am

[Sorry, Negropolis, about the length. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, and you'll feel free to just skip the whole thing if it's become tiresome. Mostly I just need to get this off my chest because it pisses me off so much.]

But it doesn't end there, of course. UM has some decent lawyers around the place, it turns out – the law school doesn't just produce Ann Coulters – and they craft a kind of domestic partner benefit provision that doesn't fall afoul of the new law, as broadly interpreted by the state Supreme Court.

Naturally, the legislature makes it a top priority to ban such benefits too. The state is in crisis, how do you have time for this? Aren't you already too busy screwing Detroit and blocking the second border crossing bridge for your paymaster Maroun?

Now I realize that this is a petty crusade against gay employees in every state agency or state-supported concern, and of course, in the end Snyder twisted enough arms to get state universities exempted, at least for now, from the law. So I'm not suggesting that UM/MSU/ etc. gay employees are especially burdened compared to other gay state employees. But there is one way in which the situation for UM and MSU (and everywhere else too – Grand Valley State gets so little from the state govt. that it will soon be private in all but name, if it isn't already) is especially infuriating. The Solons who spend their time working on crap like this realize that it would be a political loser to give the real reason they keep doing stuff like this: "We have a fanatical hatred of gays and want to do everything in our power that will fly politically to harass them". That's a bad soundbite, right there. So instead they have got instructions to come out with the focus-group tested "well, it's all about saving taxpayer dollars in a time of budget crisis". On the radio, in op-ed columns, in letters to the editor, in press releases, with all the lock-step message discipline that Republicans, with their innate authoritarian spirit, have mastered. And every time it is said, the UM/MSU/etc. communities respond to this transparent bullshit with one voice: "What taxpayer dollars?"

The cost of offering domestic partner benefits is microscopic compared to the budget as a whole, and it would require just a stroke of an accountants pen to make sure that there was a dedicated revenue source straight from return on the endowment to the partner benefits program. Taxpayer dollars are a smokescreen hiding the real motivation, which is the petty harassment of gay members of our community.

Chichikovovich January 28, 2012 at 11:52 am

Illustration: two of my friends are a lesbian couple with young children –
the natural mother is a UM faculty member, her partner is not a UM employee, and is in addition not an American citizen. So of course right from the outset there are complications – they won't be treated as married by the immigration authorities, and so there are constant struggles there. But the threat to take away health care benefits is serious for them – the partner has a chronic condition that is not life or health threatening, but is a pre-existing irritant of the type that causes private health insurance to rocket through the roof, if it can be obtained at all. (Naturally, she comes from a country that guarantees universal health care to its citizens and allows gay marriage.)

This woman is an exceptional, beloved, award winning teacher and does exceptional research. She's turned down offers from Harvard and other Ivies, among other reasons because she prefers to teach state school students at a state school. There is a common type of Michigan student that she loves to teach (as do I) – from the rougher parts of Detroit and Flint, or from the isolated wilds of the UP – who are the first in their family to go to college, who are throwbacks to a past time – uncynical, eager to work hard and learn and grateful for the opportunity to do so. A few dedicated teachers – or even one – can make a huge difference to the growth and future of such a student. You rarely see those at Harvard. But how long will she and people like her stay here if the state government regards it as a major priority to press like fiends from hell to find more ways to make her and her partner's life difficult. That's how the state shows its gratitude for educating its young people?

If I can speak old-fashionedly, UM and MSU are really exceptional institutions of higher education, devoted to the intellectual and emotional growth of young Michigan men and women. In-state tuition is far too high and out of state tuition is insane, you won't get any argument from me on that. But from the point of view of – ahem – "state taxpayer dollars" Michigan is getting an incredible bargain. And most if not all of the faculty want to remain a state school because (among other reasons) we are committed to teaching state school students. But the one thing that does cause people (or at least, me and most of the people I know at MSU and UM) to say "aw, fuck it, I'm tired of this shit, let's start taking steps toward going private" is the fact that the tiny and getting tinier state contribution to the budget is taken as a licence by a bloc of religious authoritarians to harass valued members of our community.

OK, rant over.

Negropolis January 27, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Oh, where are my manners; I nearly forgot: Muck Fichigan!

You Outstaters and Ohioans (and maybe you Indianans?) will know that one.

DahBoner January 27, 2012 at 11:11 pm

HOW! AND WHY…

Chichikovovich January 28, 2012 at 9:38 am

I'm glad you remembered – it's always so cute to hear from little brother. Sparty can be such a scamp – but we do love him.

DahBoner January 27, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Remember kids, it's considered bad manners to turn tricks out of your room in your 'rents basement, after you graduate and there's still no jobs, because robots & Republicans, sorry…

//trying out for Wonkette Jr….

WiscDad January 28, 2012 at 1:48 am

It doesn't matter whom you vote into office….the endgame is the same. Make it IMPOSSIBLE for Americans to compete in the global economy. Learn to serve, and leave the important jobs to the Indians and Filipinos. Believe it or not…we are coming closer to a revolution every day. Have you noticed the overt drive to destroy the educational system as it currently exists? Hell, almost all of the Republican candidates have vowed to destroy the public education system…at the same time states are crushing the teachers unions. Our local school district has lost at least a half dozen schools in the past two years…half of those properties are now Christian schools, charging a few thousand a year to attend. The education system is being privatized and there's NO stopping it.

HarryButtle January 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Um, hate to rain on your parade, but that fella in the pic with the old lady isn't Obama. I suppose any ol' negro can just show up in Michigan and they all think he's the president?

Negropolis January 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Silly Michiganders. They must think that the majority-black cities of Detroit, Flint and Saginaw are filled with the president.

ttommyunger January 28, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Does it really make sense in these times to pay seven shitloads of cash for a degree so that you can't find a better fucking job?

Crowe2011 January 30, 2012 at 11:39 am

If we make college affordable, immigrants will come here and steal our educationz! Making higher education only accessible for the ultra rich is the best way to protect honest hardworking Americans from terrorist booklearnings.

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm

You are soooooo lucky to have written such a great comment. I wish it had been me.

C_R_Eature January 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm

You've got the next one.

Don't lose your number! Or you'll Piss me Off!

(Edited for Extra Sinfulness)

Extemporanus January 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Yo, C_R_Eature, I'm really happy for you…I'ma let you finish…but I have the greatest reply of all time!

OF ALL TIME!

C_R_Eature January 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Congratulations! We're done!

Need More Sins, I think.

SorosBot January 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Aw man, I wish I could think of a reply that good; I can never come up with anything like that. Extemporanus, I want your reply-writing ability.

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Excellent! Let's celebrate with an Orgy.

Extemporanus January 27, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Damn!

When I hit submit the HTML coding in your comment was still messed up and unfinished, which really would've made my reply the greatest. (He says humbly…)

C_R_Eature January 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Wait… is Confusion a Venal Sin?

'Cos if so, I'm There, Baby!

Extemporanus January 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Repetitiveness is the 8th and 9th Deadly Sin.

SorosBot January 27, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Wait, what's this? (I'm not exactly a sports expert).

MissTaken January 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Neither am I, but apparently the very feminine looking "guy" in the bottom picture (not the seriously hot blah guy…yum) is coach Mark Dantonio. At least according to Chichi.

SorosBot January 27, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Yeah; I hadn't read that other thread yet and thought maybe you were referring to some real life incident, TickleTits.

Chichikovovich January 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Sorry for being obscure – that was just rival tweaking. I have no idea who the woman is.

Next to Ohio State, U. of Michigan's main rival is Michigan State. {"The Spartans", which makes for an interesting drive through East Lansing, where you can see a building proudly advertising that it is the "Spartan Hotel", and another the "Spartan Restaurant". There's even a wholesaler that distributes through the state called "Spartan Foods".)

Negropolis is from around Lansing, and has declared his Sparty allegiances. So that comment was mostly for his benefit. (Also the "Michigan State Agricultural College", which is what MSU was called back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.)

SorosBot January 27, 2012 at 7:13 pm

No problem. And rumors – what rumors? What' are people saying behind my back?

(note that his is all sarcasm and not to be taken seriously).

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