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Updated 2:30 PM April 12, 2006




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No luxury boxes for 'Big House'

Dear Regents:

We write as faculty members deeply concerned about the proposed addition of private luxury boxes to Michigan Stadium. Often described euphemistically as "premium" or "enclosed" seating, such private luxury boxes would symbolize a dramatic, disturbing and damaging departure from the University's egalitarian values and tradition.

Apart from the aesthetic damage to the nation's greatest classic stadium, private luxury boxes would physically divide fans who have always sat and cheered together, elevating a select few above the rest solely by virtue of their wealth. While there would undoubtedly be spectators willing to pay for this privilege, the University would pay a high price, too—that of its integrity.

Transforming the stadium into something virtually indistinguishable from a professional sports venue would represent a sharp deviation from our academic mission. Are towering private luxury boxes, running end-zone to end-zone on both sides of the field, really the image we want to project to the nation about Michigan's values and priorities? Shouldn't we be investing in—and calling attention to—our teaching and research programs that serve thousands every day, rather than constructing and promoting lavish entertainment facilities for a privileged few, to be used six or seven afternoons per year?

The University of Michigan is the greatest public university in the nation, and our campus—including the stadium—ought to reflect our values as an institution. Crowning the stadium with a halo of private luxury boxes would reflect nothing more than U-M's abdication to the runaway commercialism of college athletics, the growing economic stratification of our society, and a sad corruption of our university's defining traditions.

As members of the faculty, we have devoted our careers to the University of Michigan, to the pursuit of knowledge, and to educating generations of students—not just in our specific disciplines, but in the values that should guide our lives and our society. We urge you to affirm these values in the choices you make as regents, and reject private luxury boxes at Michigan Stadium.

The University Record welcomes letters from members of the University community. Those on topics of broad University interest will be given preference for publication. Letters should be no more than 500 words and must be signed. The editorial staff reserves the right to reject any letter and to edit and/or condense letters for publication. The staff also reserves the right to limit the number of letters submitted by the same individual. Letters may appear in small type. Organizations submitting material must include the name and address of an appropriate officer. Letters must be received by noon Wednesday to receive consideration for publication in the next issue.

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