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January 27, 1984 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-01-27

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I

OPINION

Page 4

Friday, January 27, 1984

The Michigan Daily 4

Answering a college questionnaire

-

By Dick West
WASHINGTON (UPI)-I was
reading the latest governmentsreport
on the slump of our educational, system
the other day, and I felt guilty.
Judging from a study showing a 10-
year drop in college admission test
scores, schools need positive input from
every age group. Yet there.is little that
I, as a adult, have done to help them
cope with their problems.
MY pangs of conscience became par-
ticularly acute as I, in a burst of New
Year's resolve, was cleaning out some
old files. While thus engaged, I came

across a 1979 questionnaire I apparen-
tly put aside and never got back to..
It was sent to me by a college student
who was soliciting information for a
term paper.
I know, remembering my own cam-
pus days, that term papers occasionally
are handed in late. In this instance,
however, the presumption is that the
student was forced to graduate into the
real world without the benefit of my an-
swers.
SO,-AS my first contribution to the
revitalization of American education, I
shall attempt now to come'to grips with
a couple of the questions.
The two inqueries that impressed me

I get most of my ideas from government
reports of education.'

as the most meaningful were: "Where
do you get ideas?" and "What is your
advice to a beginning columnist?"
Taking these up in the order of their
appearance, let me say that I get most
of my ideas from government reports
on education.
RIGHT NOW, the main controversy
concerns proposals that exceptional
teachers be given merit pay increases.
I am, forthrightly, of two minds on that

dispute.
If you are talking about merit pay
that would keep good teachers from
leaving the school system for better
paying jobs elsewhere, thus enhancing
the prospect of students emerging
solidly grounded in educational fun-
damentals, I'm for it.
But if you are talking about merit pay
that would cause dissension among
faculty members and stifle initiative in

the classrooms, I'm against it.
WHAT frequently is overlooked in this
argument is a basic misconception
about the human brain.
Some of the schools I attended took
the attitude that the brain was like a
giant sponge that would go on absor-
bing knowledge as long as it was ex-
posed to fresh information.
Actually, as we know from modern
neurological research, the brain is
more like a giant prune. Each new bit
of data is firmly embedded so that the
brain eventually becomes completely
wrinkled. When that point is reached,
new facts either displace a crease
already in place or slide right out again
on the other side.

This concept puts the traditional view
of the closed mind in a different light.
It indicates that failure to accept new
ideas is more circumstantial than
premediated.
In my own case, many of the fresh
ideas I might need for- a column are
rejected by a brain already full of flap-
doodle I learned in school.
Therefore, I am reduced to reading
government reports.
As for the second question, my advice
to a beginning columnist would be to try
another line of work. Have you con-
sidered teaching school?

West is a correspondent
United Press International.

far

I

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCIV-No. 97

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Belcher's un
A NN ARBOR Mayor Louis Belcher
has been cleared of charges that
he had a personal interest in voting last
year to convert a boarding house for
the city's homeless into office space.
But that doesn't erase the ethical
question which surrounds his current
ties to that property which he now
owns.
Did Belcher vote to convert the
Downtown Club into office space
because he knew his real estate firm
could get a 25 percent tax break on the
property and turn a profit? And did
this knowledge influence the vote he
made last year to such a degree that he
could not consider the merits of main-
taining the property as low-income
housing?
City Attorney R. Bruce Laidlaw
ruled Wednesday that according to
laws currently on the books, Belcher
did not have a conflict of interest when
he voted on the land. "I can find no law
that would restrict a council member
from participating in the development
of a parcel of land which was
previously the subject of council ac-
tion," Laidlaw wrote in his decision.
Members of an ad hoc committee
trying toblock the plans to convert the
Downtown Club into office space

ethical antics
however, know of an unwritten law:
common sense ethics.
Belcher should have known that his
firm's purchase of the property at 110
N. Fourth Ave. would raise eyebrows,
especially in light of the fact that the
city is still searching for a suitable
place to set up 'a shelter for the
homeless.
Instead, Belcher called those who
questioned his involvement with the
property "crazy" and insulted their
judgement. He defended his actions by
saying that converting the property to
low-cost housing would cost more than
turning it into office space.
City Councilman Lowell Peterson
(D-First Ward), however, said private
contractors who have examined the
building said it could be profitable as a
residential site. And who is going to be
more objective in his opinions of the
property, -,a private contractor or
Belcher and his real estate partners?
Certainly, any office holder having a
financial or personal stake in a matter
of business before his office should ex-
clude himself from considerations on
the issue: It's simple ethics. That
Belcher was cleared under the law
doesn't mean the mayor acted accor-
ding to the expectations of his office.

LaBan
.,

HE CAIT
BE S RoJS..

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DAt

THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Daily focuses on MSA

s

minor faults

r
ja
r' .t
' r
.,r s

To the Daily:
We would like to express our
thanks for the Daily's pre-
Housing Fair coverage
("Housing fair to help students
with options," Daily, January 2).
It was thoughtful of the Daily to
purvey information about this
new MSA-sponsored student
event. However, it was shallow
journalism to mock and make
light of the fair just because of an
unfortunate coincidence. To
benefit the most students before
the annual student housing rush,
it was necessary to reserve the
Union Ballroom, in November,
for Jan. 22-which at the time we
didn't know was Superbowl Sun-
day. In fact, if the Daily covered
the actual event, they would have
realized the fair ended well
before the football game started.
We are justly disappointed that
our student newspaper focusebd
on some minor problems in-
volved in starting a new event
aimed to help students, rather
than discussing the fact that over
400 students attended the fair. It
is sensationalist for the Daily to

constantly denegrate the MSA for
its faults, while neglecting to
report the positive events that
MSA constantly provides and
organizes.
It is interesting to note that the
Daily, which prides itself on
responsible journalism can

criticize MSA's supposed "inef-
fectiveness" on the same day,
Thursday, that the front page
contained an insignificant photo
on the weather and a book report
("Careers are a crock"). In ad-
dition, Wednesday's front page
contained two more irrelevant

photos, depicting winter, which I
weren't even taken in Ann Arbor,
-Steve Kaplan
John Haughton
January 26
Aaplan and Haughton are
MSA representatives and
directed the Housing Fair.

Yes, somebody is really out there

To the Daily:
On Jan. 25, David Spak wrote a
column concerning his
frustrations with student
apathy-specifically in response
to the University's stricter
drinking policies in dormitories
and to the proposed non-
academic code of student conduct
(" 'U' leaps at the chance to
babysit"). In answer to your
question, David, yes I am
listening. But in the past four
years I have spent at the Univer-
sity I have simply stopped taking
University policies
seriously-and I suspect I am not
alone.
As a freshwoman, I was nearly

raped in my dorm's showers. I
was, told that bathroom locks
were cumbersome and expen-
sive. When I was a sophomore,
one of my few decent professors
was denied tenure because she
hadn't published her book in
time. As time went by I came to
feel, more and more, that my life
has nothing to do with University
policies. I found dorm life to be
pretty disgusting, and so I moved
off campus my sophomore
year-increasing my distance
from University policies. I have
great respect for the Progressive

Student Network and for other
people that haven't given up.
But I view the University as a
corporation who is concerned
with everything but the intellec-
tual betterment of its students.
Being a student here is like being
on the sidelines of a huge cor-
poration-and for that reason, it
is simply very hard to feel per-
sonally involved-even when
University policies claim they
will effect individual students'
lives. But that doesn't mean I'm
not listening. -Julie Boesky
January-6

Hailing Witt's end

To the Daily:
Hail Caesar! For now he is
dead. Everyone knows how he
succumbed.
Perhaps the situation of the
Daily is not so unlike that of
Caesar's. It has come to my at-
tention the rule of "Witt the
Great" will soon be at an end.
Will miracles never cease? But
this is not a moment of despair

working staff you can correct
damage done in the past. Student
groups and organizations will
respect you. Alumni will support
you. Advertisers will flock to get
aboard a "new Daily."
Accept the challenge. Go for it
and goBlue.
-David Kaufman
January 14
R.M EUNTY

Unprinted letter- writer
To the Daily: dared to disagree with the D
So the Daily is "more than editorial board and their
happy to give people a forum to posedly leftist constituency.
express their views" ("Whim- I suppose if I changed my
pering regents," Daily, January and wrote a letter endorsin
22) ? I guess there must be some ins to prevent violence (a
other explanation for your abortion clinic, perhaps
refusal to print letters that would get some attention.
disagree with your editorials. maybe I could imitate aI
I've written several letters editorial and call everyth
over the last year or so that never disagree with "doublespeak
saw the light of day. Each was a Please, I'm on my knees.I
well-written statement offering a throw THIS letter down
new perspective on a campus memory hole! -Steve An
issue. Unfortunately, my letters Janu

an.
ways
rg sit-
at a
S?) a
Daily
ing I
."
Donat
the
ngelatti
uary:24
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