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January 26, 1980 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-26

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Page 4- Saturday, January 26, 1980-The Michigan Daily

Ninety Years of Editoric Freedom
Vol. XC, No. 95 News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
Dorm hike will slide by

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N JUST about three weeks, the Re-
gents will be asked to consider the
largest University housing rate in-
crease ever proposed. Andy because of
the apparent negligence on the part of
the Housing Office, only five students
will have had significant voice in this
proposed increase which will affect.
The ,planned hike in University
residence hall and housing rates
amounts to an average of 13.2 per cent,
or nearly. $300 per lease. Five students
and two residence hall staff members,
comprising the Housing Office Student
Rate Study Committee, created the
rate proposals, which include an 11.8
per cent jump necessary to keep pace
with inflation.
A rate increase of $300 will hurt a
great many students already hard-
pressed to pay University bills. It could
possibly scare away prospective
students. And, although the largest
portion of the increase is inevitable
because of the state of the economy,
the remaining 1 4 per cent is not nearly
so necessary.
It would have been nice if students
from all across the University now
living in University housing could have
expressed their views about, the
proposed increases in some public
forum. On Thursday night, however,

that chance passed by completely un-
noticed, and it is now probably too late
fur any further opportunities.
On 'Thursday, the Housing Office
scheduled a public hearing to review
the rate plans, but no one showed up. It
could have been that students didn't
care about the increases. It could have
been that students approve of the in-
creases. In fact, it was most likely
neither of these. Students quite simply
didn't know about the hearing.
Twokadvertisementsrabout the
hearings appeared in theLifaily, one on
Wednesday and one on Thursday.
These two ads turned out to be the only
real announcements of the hearing
because the Housing Office failed to in-
sure that residenee hall staffs would
publicize the open meeting. Dorm
council officers knew nothing about the
hearing, and dorm staffs did not make
any significant efforts to inform
The result of this delinquent ab-
dication of responsibility on the part of
the Housing Office is that students will
be subjected to a rate hike without any
real chance to comment on it. The
Regents are, expected to give their
rubber-stamp of a pproval to the
Housing Office recommendations, so
students have been deprived a voice in
yet another major University decision.


A Christian's plea

for media

responsiveness to religion

Caucus system has to go

HE POLITICAL fallout from Mon-
day's Iowa caucuses is only now
beginning to settle, and as the analysts
and pundits begin sifting through the
debris, the one casualty that continues
to" go uneulogized is the presidential
nominating process.
The caucus represents the basest
aspects of the presidential primary
system gone amok. From the days of par-
ty big-wigs sitting in locked, smoke-filled
rooms horsetrading delegate votes as in a
game of high-stakes poker, the caucus
sytem has degenerated into what can
only be called a farce. Ever since can-
didate Jimmy Carter demonstrated how
the caucuses could be manipulated and
stacked to gain media attention for an
unknown presidential aspirant, the
caucuses have become nothing more or
less than a practice in the art of
misrepresentation. The only thing proven
in Iowa was that some candidates were
better able to organize in the state and
stack the votes in their favor, without any
deference to voter preferences, issue
positions, or candidate popularity.
Caucuses-especially those coming so
early in the primary season-are being
read by the media as key indicators of the
particular caucus state's prevailing
political winds. But caucuses are in
reality a misrepresentation of voter sen-
timent, since less than a fifth of the
eligible voters actually participate, and
snc{ the candidate who wins is merely
the c(andidate who can haul the most sup-
porters down to the local precinct hall to
stack the voting in his favor. Jimmy Car-
ter demonstrated this in 1976, and since
then the caucuses have become an exer-
cise in vote-stacking.
The Iowa caucuses specifically are
even more farcical, considering the
disproportionate media attention given
by the "first test" of the 1980 season, and
considering who actually can and does
participate. Caucus voters need only be
18 by election day, and sign a statement
declaring their support of the party.
Caucuses usually last two or more hours,
so they automatically discriminate
against working classes, parents with
children, night-shift workers, and those
,,-g hl n,, ,,-,;i in a o n[ ,,,, te

open primary in favor of the caucus
system, caucus voters are required to
purchase a $10 party membership. This
clearly amounts ,to a glorified poll tax,
with the effect of disenfranchising hun-
dreds and making a mockery of the 24th
Amendment and the Voting Rights Act.
The Michigan Democratic caucus -
set for April 26 - has one additional
twist. Since Republicans will be selecting
their national convention delegates in a
fair, open, and honest primary election
May 20, Democrats will be able to vote in
the April caucuses, then turn around and
vote in the Republican primary.
Democrats get to vote twice,
Republicans only once. The effect on the
Constitution is chilling.
Thy caucus system needs to be scrap-
ped now, before some unknown can-
didate takes the initiative to start
organizing Iowa tomorrow for the 1984-
presidential caucuses. The 1980 Michigan
Democratic caucus must be scrapped
and replaced by a fair primary election,
before Michigan's Democratic party
leaers have a chance to misrepresent the
unfair caucus as the true vote of the
people of the state.
Perennial gubernatorial candidate
Zolton Ferency has threatened to take his
party to court if they proceed with the
illegal and unconstitutional April 26
caucus. Likewise, Gov. Jerry Brown, a
Democratic presidential candidate, has
said he will ignore the caucus votes and
put his name before the real voters of the
.state of Michigan on the primary ballot.
(There will still be a demo'ratic primary
in the state, but it will have no effect on
the selection of delegates.) Both moves
must be supported, and the caucus
system in Michigan must be reisited all
the way to coyurt, to prevent a tremendous
disservice to the people of the state of
Michigan and the U.S. Constitution. The
fate of representative government is
hanging delicately in the balance:
Sue Warner..............................EDITOR-IN-Cl HIEF
Richard Berke,.,Julie Ro~ner..........;INAGING EI)ITORS
Michael Arkush. Keith ichburg....EI)ITRIAL I)RECTOS
Brian Blanchard......... ......... UNiVERSITY EDITOR
Judy Rakowsky.................................CITY EDITOR

Is there a trend toward religious in-
volvement at the U. of M. and in.Ann Arbor?
That was a question asked of me not long ago
by a Daily reporter. I felt good about his in-
terest in this question. I knew, also, that his
determination to stick to local developments
made sense for the audience he was trying to
reach. Nevertheless, I had a general lack of
confidence in the mainstream media's ability
to understand religion. While my interviewer,
as a Daily reporter, wasn't really main-
stream, I still don't know him or where he
stood in relation to the topic he was trying to
cover. Since I have poured a lot of myself into
the life-vision that grips me, I was somewhat
paranoid about how my comments might be
represented. These concerns and probably
others I'm not aware of drove meto the
drawing board,so to speak, in an attempt to
expose issues I feared were not going to be
dealt with by my interviewer.
I could not answer the question 'Is there a
trend toward religious involvement on cam-
pus and in Ann Arbor?" the way it was stated
because my own world and life-view led me to
see Western culture and, for that matter, all
culture as religious. Western culture served a
vision of what life was all about. That; to me,
was religion. The religion of the West,
Americajn partichlar, I saw serving the holy
trinity of progress, pragmatism, and the
American Dream This vision of life, it
seemed to me, was undergirded by an
arrogant faith in its own inherent goodness, a
faith secured and supported by the mage of
science. Through science and technology we-
could have, at once, abundance and a magic
tool to deliver us from the consequences of
our gluttony. Mv religion saw this as a false
vision, a decelive vision of death and
destruction. Ne .'rhteless, it was a vision, one
that gave struct ure and direction to all of life
respond at face value to the question, "Is
there a trend toward religious in-
volvement. . . ? because, to begin with, I see
human beings as religious by nature. They
are constantly in the service of something,
someone, some view of what it means to be a
person, to relate to others, the world and to
God, however defined. I would much rather
have responded to questions like: "Who or
what is the god of this culture?" "What have
been the results of service to that god?" "Is
there any alternative god(s) our culture
might better be made f ree to serve?" or "Are
there any visible signs that real alternatives
are being formed?"
These are not just rhetorical questions. I
raise them to suggest the necessity for
something other than trendiness as the meat
of the media. The fact that there is presently
a revival of charismatic and evangelical
Christianity in American culture offers
limited hope if these movements continue to
demonstrate blind faith in the American Way
of Life or fail to confront it at its root.
In the process of identifying trends, the
media, it seems to me, would do us a great
service if it also asked questions about trends
that did not exist as a way of drawing atten-
tion to the needs of the day. One might ask:
"Is there a trend toward the opening of our
culture to alternative visions of how societal
life should be structured and directed?" "Is
our state and nation ready to shed its thick-
Letters to the
To the Daily: educatio
In a recent Daily editorial minority:
(Jan. 18), LSA-Student Gover- a TA trai
nment ws critc-zed r aeaiing---

By Alan TothR
skinned preoccupation with an ever-
expanding GNP?" "Is it ready to abandon the
forced unity and stifling uniformity of
melting-pot pluralism for the cultural in-
tegrity of something like a patchwork quilt?'
I believe the answer to these -questions is
... "NO, at least not at this time."
THAT sUCH AN "opening" trend might
develop is certainly possible but it will not
happen overnight. It is just as likely that it
will never take place, that our culture will
become rigidly self-defensive, more closed.
and increasingly authoritarian in a desperate.
attempt to preserve the illegitimate power
generated by its false vision of life and
reality. So then, if we want to know how we
should live, should we ask "What is the
Perhaps we should, but with more depth
and with the recognition that a mere report of
factual, cultural data is inadequate. If the
media are interested in generating real
dialogue then every media-structure should
publicly make known its starting-point
whether humanist, Marxist, capitalist,
Christian, Jewish, Islamic, or whatever. The
reading public is not homogenous and no
media-structure can speak for every value-
community. Moreover, pretended objectivity
and neutrality in reporting is an illusion.
'Every choice one makes, every piece of
reporting one does, presupposes a system of
values, a way of understanding life and of
determining what is and isn't important, right
or good. Every time we select and interpret
cultural data we do so guided by our own
value assumptions. There is nothing wrong
with this. It reflects the nature of what we
are. As human beings, whether consciously or
unconsciously, we live as members of value-
communities. They affect us. We, in turn, try
to nurture and support them as they seek to
give meaning and structure to life. There are
many such value-communities in our culture,
not just one. Our social milieu should reflect
this, openly, by making structural room, in
the media-world and elsewhere; for these
distinct communities to nurture and develop
their own identity and contribution.
In the mainstream media this is not the
case, particularly with regard to its under-
standing of religion (value-community). Sin-
ce secular humanism (the belief that men and
women by their own autonomous rationality,
through sciencie and technology, can deliver
themselves from meaninglessness and
hopelessness) is'not generally regarded as a
religion, as a way of understanding, judging,
and shaping life but rather is culturally
assumed, its religious nature is never con-
sidered. Conversely, religion, in the orthodox
way we are taught to regard it, is given
special treatment in the press. Journalists
seem to regard it merely as an aspect of life
alongside many others, e.g., business'
classifieds, sports, entertainment, etc. The
media don't grasp that religion (meaning,
direction, world-and-life view, value-
community) is a human response to a God,
who wants to give direction to all of life.
Religion is treated, instead, as an aspect, as

one part of life rather than its starting point.
This is why in America we see that private
religion is tolerated. Publicly things are dif-
ferent. Here lie the objectivity and value-
neutrality, generated by a scientific world-
and-life view, wants to separate the back-door *'
entry 'of a public religion of rational,
moderate faith in the.American Way. Those
whose private commitments bring them into
conflicts with this public religion are forced
either to compromise their faith or live, as it
were, in exile.
of this developed, cultural arrangement
makes it important for us to recognize that
the data presented in any report, journalistic*:
or otherwise, are never, themselves, void (f
their own value-assumptions. The data become
whit they are as a result of certain assump-
tions operative in their unfolding.
I make the above points in critique of the
assumption of objectivity characterizing the
mainstream media's preoccupation with fac-
ts (trends) and the government's imposition
of the fairness doctrine which assumes two
sides to every issue. Facts are never devoid of
values. Life does not exist in a vacuum and
neither do the media. They, too, are captive to
the world vision of production and consum-
ption. They are linked to this vision by their
dependence on advertising for survival.
Unable to bite the hand that feeds them, they
get sucked into a one-sided development of
life generated by a national preoccupation
wit h economic advancement. Thus to suggest
that there are only tvxo sides to a given issue
or that room should be provided for opposing
views, generally serves to' guarantee that
media dialogue will be skewed toward per-
petuating entrenched cultural assumptions.
The government forgets that the legal
thrust of the fairness doctrine assumes a
basic consensus of values and thus overlooks
the 'fact that the two or whatever number of
sides are almost always contained within the
compass of one overriding perspective on life,
namely that which ultimately supports the
myopic vision of Economic Man. It is difficult
to combat this doctrine legally because our
government's legal apparati operate with
their own assumptions and these are not im-
mune to the demanding influence of the
cultural vision uniformly imposed upon us by
our network of societal institutions.
So, as a Christian, while I must seek to
make myself aware of the trends of the
historical age I am in and try to do so with as
much depth and scope as I can muster, I can-
not allow myself to be bound or determined by
what I see, empirically, except to the extent
that a knowledge of what is can inform my
understanding of what I ought to do. Trends,
in and of themselves, have no meaning
separate from that given them by the
renewing and judging power of a sovereign
God. I am called to obedience, to service, to
critique and nurture, no matter what the
trends. Sometimes that obedience means
calling into question the trends that exist, in-
cluded those confessed to be of a Christian
Alan Toth is a 37-year-old former
University student of politicaltheory.


ocs not
nal opportunities of
students; and to initiate 1
:ing program. Students
must_ asum a prominent..roie.in

nment was criticized for dealing
with certain issues "to the ex-
clusion of other, more immediate
problems." This criticism is
totally unwarranted.
The focus of LSA-Student
Government's concern and effor-
ts is in improving the quality of
education provided by the
College. The Daily editorial
stated: "A few words of commen-

must assume a prominent role in
the College governance; but the
achievement of formal positions
on committees and boards is not
enough. Students must have clear
aims and continually be prepared
to assert their ideas.
However, several obstacles
prevent LSA-SG from achieving
these .goals. Although student
apathy has stifled many past ef-

ignore problems
numbers in our efforts is that shrinking state appro
those who currently govern the This problem in and of
College-the administrators and perils the current q
faculty members-are highly in- education, let alone bei
visible. It js difficult to organize stacle for efforts to i
when most of the student the situatidn. But, LSA
population does not know the intend to work to mai
names of the Dean and Associate status quo.If there are I
Deans of the College. Students then the priorities of th
falsely perceive that some have to change anda
mystical forces, out of their commitment has to be
reach or influence, run the undergraduate educati
College. Some of the fault lies LSA-SG has long know
with LSA-SG. But, the Daily must major role is to imp

itself im-
uality of
ng an ob-
A-SG does
intain the
ess funds,
he College U
a greater :"
emade to
wn that its
prove the
1 ..t,.

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