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October 02, 1984 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-10-02

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Tuesday, October 2, 1984

The Michigan Daily

4

MSA demands voice in policy-making

By Scott Page
On Tuesday, September 25, the
Michigan Student Assembly passed a
resolution stating the restrictions
needed before we can responsibly un-
dertake any negotiations with the
University administration regarding
the proposed student code of non-
academic conduct and the proposed
University judicial system. We enacted
the resolution so that the ad-
ministration, specifically President
Harold Shapiro, must publicly announ-
ce whether or not the executive officers
of the University will respect students'
right to approve or reject any code of
nonacademic conduct guaranteed un-
der regental bylaw 7.02.
The restrictions are as follows:
* The executive officers of the
University will make no
proposals, either formal or in-
formal, to the regents that regen-
ts' bylaw 7.02 be changed, suspen-
ded for any period of time, or

deleted for the purpose of
abrogating or restricting the
right of the Michigan Student
Assembly to approve, reject, or
renegotiate a code of
nonacademic conduct.
The executive officers will
respect the right of MSA to ap-
prove or reject the code of
nonacademic -Iconduct,
i.e.prohibitions and sanctions and
the corresponding judicial
system whether or not it applies
only to students and whether or
not the University Council for-
mally issues it.
-The executive officers will
treat for the purposes of
negotiation and approval, the
code and system as a unified
document. The system, no less
than the code, must be approved
by MSA.
"The executive officers will
revise the March 5 version of the
code and system to reflect
restrictions 1 and 2. Specifically,

but not exclusively, the amen-
dment sections of the code and
system must reflect the present
wording of regents' bylaw 7.02,
i.e. the regents must not have the
sole authority to amend the code
and system. In addition, the
jurisdiction sections must reflect
bylaw 7.02.

appear righteous in their latest effort to
pass the code. They publicly say the
student input is not only welcome, but
also important in the code's revision
process. However, student input
without the above restrictions may only
serve to legitimize the administration's
code. Also, by inviting MSA to par-
ticipate in potentially meaningful

The students must join the assembly in its
fight to protect their rights. Apathy will not.
defeat the code; students will.

ministration could ignore substantive
student objections to the code and still
claim it reflects students' concerns.
The code will only be a student
code when ' students approve it.
Moreover, if MSA steadfastly ad-
vocates student rights, the ad-
ministration will again portray MSA as
an adversarial, intransigent body. The
administration undoubtedly considers
MSA's restrictions as unacceptable
because the restrictions themselves
limit the administration's authority to
pass the code.
AN EXAMPLE of this is President,
Shapiro's letter of September 28. He
writes that our restrictions "would
necessarily constrain what may be
creative approaches to any particular
problem." We do not consider guaran-
teeing student rights a constraint on
any creative solution. The ad-
ministration does.
Although President Shapiro says that
he "welcomes the opportunity to have
direct negotiations with represen-
tatives of MSA", he also asks that no

"preconditions" be attached to them.
Preconditions protect students and
limit the unilateral authority of the ad-
ministration to tamper with the code
and students' lives.
So when the administration contends
that its invitation was made in good
faith, we will know otherwise. MSA is
eager to work with anyone on revising
the code, so long as President Shapiro
reaffirms the rights of students set for-
th in regents bylaw 7.02.
Our restrictions upon entering
negotiations are reasonable. They only
ask that 35,000 students, who spend
years studying and living in Ann Arbor,
have the right to decide what rules
govern their nonacademic behavior.
MSA continues to promote
negotiations in good faith. Yet, MSA
alone can only achieve limited goals.
The students must join the assembly in
its fight to protect their rights. Apathy
will not defeat the code; students will.

4

The motivation to pass the above
resolution was a result of an informal
invitation from the administration for
MSA to discuss the details of the code
and system. The administration feels
the code debate has festered long
enough and that students must accept
the inevitable code.
OSTENSIBLY, administrators try to

negotiations, the administration is
trying to dispell the feeling among
students that it has no intention of draf-
ting a code acceptable to students and
student governments.
By recognizing the above restric-
tions, the administration can guarantee
an outcome acceptable to all parties.
Without the above restrictions, the ad-

Page is president
Student Assembly.

of the Michigan

A

Wasserman

die erdbt an a n
Edited and manoged by students at The University of Michigan

t2AGANI
C N IA T S o F E IL

Vol. XCV, No. 23

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, Ml 48109

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

Vanessa's

'

VOiNN\N& oP-

A S THE SCRAMBLE for the
November issue of Penthouse
begins, Vanessa Williams provides an
interesting, and disturbing, study in
race and gender relations.
The rush to purchase nude shots of
the fallen Miss America is reminiscent
of the crowds flocking around a serious
accident. There is a strange
fascination with the destruction or
degradation of another human being
and Miss Williams' life has indeed
been ruined. Her story is a tragedy but
not in the strict sense of the word. She
is not the victim of sexism or racism,
she is the victim of her own misguided
participation in an activity which in-
vites sexist and racist judgments. .
There are those who have taken
Williams' plight as an affirmation that
hatred and conspiracy are
everywhere. Criticisms and suspicion
have recently been elicited on this
campus by a flier promoting a meeting
for the student yearbook, the Michigan
Ensian, which reads: "Vanessa
Williams says, 'Get Published'." A
ruined life is a tasteless subject for
clever pitches, but more than that has
been read into the fliers. Accusations
of racism and sexism have been
leveled against the Ensian, ac-
cusations that are hasty and counter-
productive. Williams is the butt of the
joke, not because she is a woman and a
black, but because she made a big
mistake. Her victimization is not
equivalent to Ku Klux Klan rallies or
gang rapes. She should not be held up
as a symbol of racial and gender. in-
justice because she is far more than a
black woman. She is a Miss America
who posed for Penthouse. Race and
gender relations are aggravated by
petty accusations, they are improved
-Y C
YouQ

tragedy
by trust and a broad search for under-
standing.
Miss Williams should not be held up
as a representative of the negro race or
the female sex, nor as one to be
lavished with pity. She was stupid, not
>ppressed. It is naive to assume a lack
>f willingness on her part to par-
ticipate in the sale of her sexuality.
Ihe problem is that society encourages
females to believe that parading
around in a bathing suit in front of
millions of people is an honor. And the
difference between promenading in a
skimpy bathing suit and posing nude is
>ne of degree only. She is the victim of
forces she responded to willingly. The
social forces of sexism and racism are
at the roots of the problem, but so is the
willingness to yield to them. One who
consents to exploitation, as Williams
did, takes the essential fole in the
process. Williams sold herself for
noney and prestige. That is not
something to be defended.
The September and November photo
spreads should not raise questions of
racism. There is no doubt that nude
photos of a white reigning Miss
America would inspire as much in-
terest as Williams' have. The photos
also fail to provide an example of overt
sexual oppression. Hundreds of Miss
America aspirants participate in a
contest which defines sexuality as a
commodity to be wielded for their
benefit and the Penthouse shots do
nothing more than that. Williams' case
is unique because she got caught
wielding her sexuality in a society that
expects and perpetuates such
degradation, while at the same time
punishes it as a crime. The sentence
has been severe. And that's no joking
matter.

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY

One person's needs don't define life

4

To the Daily:
I must admit that Brian
Leiter's article "Defenders of the a-
sensual lifestyle" (Daily, Sep-
tember 26) got my dander up. Af-
ter all, it's not every day that I'm
told the reason I oppose abortion
is because I am "possessed of a
crippled and thwarted
sexuality". Being pretty in-
terested in and on good terms
with the opposite sex, I found this
quite a sweeping judgement on
the author's part. Yet on reading
through the piece again, I found
that judgement was only one
example of the shaky logic and ad
hoc style of definition that per-
meate Leiter's train of thought.
In fact, the entire thesis of the
article rests on a definition
seemingly plucked from thin air:
namely, the definition of life as
"the sensuous (or emotional) ex-
perience of the world". Leiter,
did you ever take any biology
courses? How do we know if
grass, bushes, trees, amoebae, or
paramecium'have "sensuous ex-
periences"? They're still alive
by any scientific criteria I can
think of. Life cannot be defined
by cataloguing what one person
needs to feel value, significance
or satisfaction and assuming that
the same needs apply to all
people. Maybe quality of life can
be defined that way, but that's an
entirely different argument.
Such vague generalities are un-
fortunately not an exception in
the article. Leiter's view of anti-
abortionists as repressed,
unloving, unfeeling spoilsports is
as much of an unfounded

God's creation (including sexual
intercourse). As a practicing
Lutheran, I can only say that
Leiter's opinion of me and my
faith is the opinion of an outsider
who has already closed his mind
to contrary argument.
Strip away all the impressive
verbiage, and what's left? The
usual argument for abortion,
which places the welfare of the

self before the welfare .of other
creatures, and which is justified
only in a few cases (rape, incest,
mortal danger to the mother).
Admittedly, I'm speaking from a
pretty safe position on this issue
- I can't get pregnant. But
Leiter fails to tackle' what I
believe to be the real conflict
below the surface of the abortion
issue, namely the conflict bet-

ween those who want to set stan-
dards for the quality of life and
those who base their position on a
beliefin the sanctity of life. In-
stead, the author stands up on his
soapbox and starts slinging mud
at those who oppose him.
-Rick Krueger
September 26

4

A nti-abortionists are not cold-hearted

To the Daily:
This letter is in response to
Brian Leiter's article "Defenders
of the asensual lifestyle" (Daily,
September 26).
It seems extremely sad that
one so knowledgeable as Leiter
about philosophy and law
remains so ignorant about life.
Yet you profess to be an expert on
the subject. First of all, you con-
demn "anti-abortionists" (as you
call us) for advocating the right
to life. Opinions differ among pro-
lifers on various abortion issues,
but all have one goal in common:
BLOOM COUNTY

the preservation of human life.
Our desire to preserve life has
nothing to do with a "non-
sensual, non-emotional, non-
cognitive experience of the
world."
Furthermore, we are not cold-
hearted people who wish to
"punish others for their sexual
desires." Rather, we say: Enjoy
your sex life! Be as sensual as
you desire! Live life to its fullest!
Just don't take the life of a human
being in the process. It's as sim-
ple as that, Leiter. This has
little to do with the denial of

sexuality; instead, it reinforces
people to act responsibly and
examine the choices which they
are making - life and death
decisions!
I'm not an expert on abortion
issues, norado I march in protest
to stamp out abortion. I simply
value and cherish human life and
hope someday all people will
realize that we can no longer
make any more excuses, such as
Leiter's, for the massacre of
the "silent majority."
- Laura MacDonald
September 27
by Berke Breathed

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