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October 09, 1984 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-10-09

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4

OPINION

Page 4 Tuesday, October 9, 1984 The Michigan Da

4

,be flItcdjigan iai1
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Code could hurt minorities

Vol. XCV, No. 29

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

I

A SERIES ON THE PR OPOSED CODE
A necessary argument

:

surrounding unnecessary
and unjust propositions

T HIS EDITORIAL series is inspired
by our belief that the proposed
student code for nonacademic conduct
and the argument surrounding it are
very important and need extended
discussion.
The code and its judicial system
represent, foremost, a serious breach
of students' rights. But beyond that,
the circumstances under which they
have been proposed and may be ,im-
plemented present a unique oppor-
tunity to observe the motivations and
beliefs of the administration in its
dealing with the student body. And
because of the threat to student
freedoms being proposed by the ad-
ministration, it is necessary to
evaluate just what students can and
should do to preserve and expand their
rights within the University com-
munity.
It is important to understand from
the outset that the code controversy
has not been manufactured by student
Leaders and organizations looking for
omething to yell about. We do not wish
pursue disagreement for
disagreement's sake. Rather, we wish
to express earnest concerns regarding
the administration's proposals and the
way in which they might be implemen-
ted.
The series is not prompted by any
specific event or decision. We feel it is
necessary, however, to provide a
sound knowledge of Athe code for
those who are not familiar with it, to
inspire action from those who already
have an understanding, and to com-
municate that understanding to the
administration. The student com-
munity is not divided on this issue ex-
cept where the divisions are between
opposition and ignorance. The basic
goals are to explain to students and
administrators the many injustices in-
cluded in the code and to combat indif-
ference on the part of the student body
to those injustices.
The University is frustrated by an
inability to discipline students who
may have committed criminal or
"inappropriate" behavior and is looking
to take the law into its own hands. But
the administration has not, and we
believe cannot, justify a legitimate
need for the code.
The code would define what kind of
behavior is permissible for students
within this community and its
corresponding judicial system would
provide the mechanism for punish-
ment. Covered would be diverse acts
from arson to assault and to inter-
fering with a University sponsored ac-
tivity. What's wrong with that? Indeed,
there is nothing objectionable about a
mechanism aimed at promoting and
enforcing lawful behavior. The code,
however, is a mechanism that is both
unnecessary and unjust.
The code is unnecessary simply
because there already exists a system
of laws and enforcement protecting the
University community, namely, the
statutes, judiciary, and enforcement
agencies of local, state, and federal

erected and is controlled by society in
a democratic manner-something that
definitely cannot be said for the code.
The law doesn't belong in the hands
of the University, it belongs, and
already exists, under the authority of
the government. If a student is guilty
of a crime, then he or she will be
punished by the existing law. If a
student is not guilty, or of questionable
guilt, then the University has no right
to hand out its own punishments.
Sidestepping lengthy court
proceedings might be tempting, but it
leaves too much room for infringemen-
ts on the rights of the individual. This
society has spent 200 years honing a
system of law that is necessarily the
most just and accurate judge of guilt
and innocence. The rights of the in-
dividual are guaranteed before all
else. Where there is a question of guilt,
guilt should be questioned.
In a memo to Vice President for
Student Services Henry Johnson,
Director of Public Safety Walt Stevens
outlined a number of student offenses
"for which there is no basic set of
rules available to the University to
administer sanctions" and offered
that' "I have enough faith in the
judicial system to believe punitive
measures where available and applied
will be fair and appropriate." His faith
in the judicial system comes out of a
recognition that the existing law is the
most consistent, effective, and just
system available to our society.
Infringements on the rights of the
student are most noticeable, however,
where the University's system would
go beyond the law. University
President Harold Shapiro said that
"One of the goals of the code is to give
students a better sense of what sort of
behavior is acceptable in a University
community." This paternalistic at-
titude would attempt to dictate to the
student body what is morally and
socially acceptable. It offensively
assumes an amount of student
ignorance and moral uncertainty and
does not allow for varying inter-
pretations of what is considered "ac-
ceptable." But students have the
ability and right to determine for
themselves what is appropriate
behavior as long as that behavior is
allowed by the society in which they
reside.
A student is at the University tobe
taught, not told how to act. The ad-
ministration feels that since it is a
privilege to attend this university, it
has the right to dictate the behavior of
those lucky enough to be admitted.
Being given the privilege to attend this
university, however, does not indebt
the student to obedience. The student is
not an employee of the University, he
or she pays thousands of dollars to be
taught, not to take lessons in morality
as defined by the administration.
The University is supposed to
educate and serve the students. If the
students are unable to protect them-
selves and the community, then it is
the role of the government to protect
them, as it protects every member of

By Roderick Linzie
The University administration is currently
sending contradictory and possibly irrecon-
cilable messages to the black community as it
responds slowly to the declining presence of
black students and other less privileged per-
sons on its campuses, while at the same time
seeking to enact a repressive and
authoritarian student code of non academic
conduct. As the black student researcher for
the Michigan Student Assembly with the
responsibility for investigating the reasons
that black students are not being retained or
graduated in proportionate numbers to that of
white students, I shall consider the impact
that the student code might have on the
recruitment and retention of black students to
the University. The University should reflect
the democratic principals that the state and
nation are founded upon and protect the
rights and'freedoms of its. numeric
minorities. For the regents to bypass the cer-
tain and specific rejection of the proposed
code by the student body, is also a rejec-
tion of the rights of individuals and
groups to participate in self-governance. That
action makes a mockery of the educational
mission of the University and the power en-
trusted to the University regents and ad-
ministration by the constituents of Michigan.
That the recruitment of black, Hispanic,
and Native American students is a priority of
the University is well documented in the
public records. Yet the administration has
designed a student code which will make the
recruitment of black students much more dif-
ficult, guarantee the perpetuation of their dif-
ferential treatment once these students
arrive, and may cause the unneccesary loss
of black students to occur because of the poor
quality of the proposed code. Racism, in-
stitutional and personal, exists at the Univer-
sity. It is a reflection of those realities in the
larger, society. That the Office of Affirmative
Action still exists to combat these dysfun-
ctional aspects of our collective educational
efforts attests to these realities. Historically,
black Americans and those not economically
priviledged have disproportionatly been the
recipients of unjust treatment in the United
States legal and criminal justice systems.
Now, the University seeks to enact a parallel,
DOWN T_ RATE O
CNP QI p4IN ?Nt1N&

autonomous justice system. This code allows
for an excessive amount of and potentially
abusive discretion by the University hearing
officers throughout the judicial process
generally from which black students will suf-
fer specifically. Due process is not guaran-,
teed, since the hearing and appeal processes
are extremely ad-hoc in their design and no
formal process exists.
Additionally, the prohibited conduct is
much too broad and not nearly specific
enough. That is, in the context of racial
inequality and disharmony, these laws may
be used to selectively charge, "discharge"
and punish black students. This fear is
especially highlighted since the student code
of nonacademic conduct does not limit the
'This code allows for an
excessive amount of and
potentially abusive
discretion by the Univer-
sity hearing officers
throughout the judicial
process generally from
which blacks will suffer
specifically.'
possibility of individuals being charged with
crimes or violations that do not arise out of
their official relationship with the University.
Trials by jury of peers for black students
would be virtually impossible and would have
to be sacrificed, since the percentages of
black students, faculty, staff, and ad-
ministration is untolerably low. Is it con-
tradictory to the institutional goals that the
affirmative action office, created to protect
the rights of the disenfrancised, is currently
a leading actor in the development of this
code? Has that office studied the impact the
code will have on the less priviledged mem-
bers of the community? Has the office
solicited any information or opinion about the

code from the black, Hispanic, Asian, NativeZ
American or women students, staff, and-
faculty?
Furthermore, the nature of the code has
some additional implications for recruitment
and retention especially. It is viewed as being
potentially oppressive and authoritarian,
because it is restrictive of student protest and
dissent, no matter how just the cause may be.
Social progress, characteristically chain-
pioned by non-privileged members :ofr
society, can easily be stifled. For example,
the widely supported Black Action Movement
of 1970 or the demonstrations by the han I..
dicapped students earlier this year at the.
student union would become ipso factoj.4
prohibited and punishable conduct. Students.,
ought to be free to express these concerns.
without jeopardizing their academic tran-
scripts or careers. The University asd-,,
ministration extols standards of excellence ,
Yet, it is willing to except sub-standards of
justice and equity in measure by which
judgements about the guilt or innocence of in
dividuals and their punishments shall be
determined. Standards proposed in the code
are less than those widely used in civil
society. (for criminal cases a preferred
measure. is that guilt should be proven beyond
a reasonable doubt. In civil cases a prepon.
derance of the evidence is required. In both
cases a unanimous decision of the jury is
required.) According to the proposed code, an
agreement among the majority of the panel is
enough.
Finally, what will make the significant dif-
ference in the recruitment and retention of
black students will be the creation of-"a
democratic and nonlauthoritariaif
educational university environment. The well
being of black students and all students would'
truly be protected' and fostered in sincere
ways by other students, the administration,
faculty, and staff. The proposed code does not
achieve fundamental University goals acid
conflicts with them directly. I urge that the':
University regents reject the student code of
non-academic conduct and affirm the rights,'
priviledges, and responsibilities of in-
dividuals and groups to participate in self-
governance.
Linzie is MSA 's black minority resear-
cher.

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LEPTTERSTOTHE DAIL.Y

7

Daily should review morals, methods:

To the Daily:
Recently there was a tragedy
at the University. Karen Duffy, a
South Quad Resident Advisor
committed suicide, and many are
mourning her death. Wednesday
night, when a few Thronson
House women were speaking to
another Thronson House RA, an
editor from The Michigan Daily,
Bill Spindle, rudely interrupted
and attempted to speak to the
RA. He refused to leave untilthe
"got his story." Eventually, the
editor was escorted out of South
Quad by campus security.
Earlier that evening after
Thronson House held a meeting
to inform its residents about Duf-

South Quad staff members, and
residents.
If this kind of action is what the
Daily sees as investigative jour-
BLOOM COUNTY

nalism, I believe that it is time
for the Daily to seriously review
their morals and methods. There
is no reason why this should have

happened, and I sincerely hope
that it never happens again.
-Amy Zweiman
October 4
by Berke Breathed -

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