WMU News

WMU opposes Michigan Proposal 4

Oct. 31, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University comes down squarely against passage of Michigan's Proposal 4, WMU President Elson S. Floyd said today. The initiative, which will appear on the state ballot in the Nov. 5 election, would annually redirect tobacco settlement funds from state government to private health care organizations.

"There are serious constitutional and oversight issues raised by this proposal," Floyd said, "and passage of this measure would do enormous damage to students--the very people proponents claim to be trying to protect. The families of more than three quarters of this university's freshman class will be on the losing end of things if Proposal 4 passes and funds are diverted away from Michigan's Merit Scholarship program.

"I've discussed this individually with each of our trustees and there is agreement that we need to take a stand against passage of this proposal. Higher education is the very best way to use the tobacco settlement funds. In the long run, ensuring a high level of educational achievement for our youth will mean fewer and fewer of them will fall prey to the goals of tobacco marketers.

"I also think we violate the public trust by denying these scholarships to qualified students whose families have built their budgets around the expectation of receiving this assistance from the state."

Floyd said WMU trustees have individually reviewed a proposal detailing the reasons for opposition to the ballot initiative, and they expect to ratify the proposed resolution when they meet in December.

During the 2001-02 academic year, more than 3,300 of incoming WMU freshmen qualified for merit scholarships of up to $2,500 each for a total of nearly $7.6 million. Those figures are expected to be even higher when final numbers for the current academic year become available.

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, WMU students will rally in opposition to Proposal 4. Click here for a related WMU News story.

Media contact: Matt Kurz, 269 387-8400, matt.kurz@wmich.edu

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