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March 09, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-03-09

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10

OPINION
Page 4 Saturday, March 9, 1985 The Michigan Daily

4

ie adbtheganrit y
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Separate realities in college

Vol. XCV, No. 124

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

i

Unfaithful brothers

R ONALD REAGAN'S "brothers"
in Nicaragua haven't been
keeping up on their morals, at least not
according to a pair of reports filed
recently.
Reports from Americas Watch, a
non-political organization that reviews
human rights cases in the Western
hemisphere, and a private group
headed by Reed Brody, a former New
York State assistant attorney general,
found that the Nicaraguan rebels had
committed a large number of human
rights violations.
The Americas Watch report un-
covered many instances of the current
Sandinista government's abuses, but
noted that those numbers had declined
significantly since 1982.
The Brody report investigated 28 in-
dividual cases of abuses and its fin-
dings paint a bloody picture. Victims
recount stories of being kidnapped at
gun point from their homes and of
being wantonly attacked while riding
in unarmed civilian automobiles.
It is fortunate that the report is being
released now, however. Reports of
atrocities on the part of the rebels have
been common since the Sandinista
revolution almost six years ago, yet
with a controversial funding bill
coming to a vote in Congress shortly,
those atrocities might pack some
political weight.
Last year, Congress voted to suspend
covert aid to the Contras, but allocated
$14 million which could only be
released by a Congressional vote after
February 28. The measure is expected
to come to a vote in April.

Reagan either misunderstands the
Contras or is deliberately distorting
the truth to call such a group the
"moral equals of our founding
fathers." Political activist Abbie Hof-
fman reported that in his visit to
Nicaragua he was told of some Contras
blinding a 12-year-old sentry. Had John
Adams, Thomas Jefferson, or James
Madison even attacked a child they
would surely have been ostracized
from their community, yet the Contras
have done much worse.
In light of Reagan's false picture of
the Contra's morality, his view of their
exportation of revolution is suspect as
well. Reagan claims that the San-
dinistas have been beefing up their
defense systems to prepare for in-
vasions of nearby Honduras, Costa
Rica, or El Salvador.
There has been no evidence yet,
however, that the Sandinistas are in-
terested in such expansion, and indeed
it is doubtful whether they could
muster the necessary transport
facilities for any such expedition.
Their weapons buildup appears defen-
sible in view of the abominations
committed by the Contras, who have
benefitted from years of U.S. covert
aid.
The recent reports on human rights
abuses by the Contras will likely apply
pressure on Congress not to continue
funding them. In the meantime,
however, even more pressure, in the
form of letters to Senators and
Representatives, may be necessary if
the U.S. is to sever its ties to such a
morally bankrupt group as the con-
tras.

By Robert Honigman
Last in a series
"For both sexes in this society, caring
deeply for anyone is becoming synonymous
with losing."
- Columbia Psychiatrist Herbert Hendin.1975
* * * *
In 1977 a University official assured me that
there was no housing crisis. He wasn't lying
or trying to deceive me. He honestly believed
there was no crisis, but I felt as though I had
stepped through the Looking Glass and was
talking to the Mad Hatter.
University officials always see the univer-
sity through a lens of their own concerns and
goals. They see students' lives passing by like
the pages of unread books, and there is a
naive belief that the majority of students are
happy. This is strikingly similar to the belief
by colonialists that the "natives are happy,"
by slave holders that their slaves are happy,
by factory owners that their workers are hap-
py, or by athoritarian governments that their
people are happy. Each believes that it is only
radical fringe groups and troublemakers who
stir the natives up and make them disconten-
ted.
But there was a housing crisis in 1977, and
the University is a place of unhappiness.
Studies have shown that the 25-40 percent
drop-out rate among undergraduates at
major universities is due largely to
dissatisfaction with the university environ-
ment - or, in other words, unhappiness.
Given the enormous pressures on young
people stay in college and get degrees, it is
likely that an equally high proportion of
students are dissatisfied with the university
but choose to stay and complete their
degrees.
Moreover, studies of this generation have
noted the increase in suicide, alcohol abuse,
social tension and breakdown among people
of college age. Lansing Lamont, who sur-
veyed a dozen of the nation's top universities,
including the University, for his 1979 book
Campus Shock, found deeply disturbed
human relations at these campuses - lost
civility, crime, racial distrust, sexual anar-
chy, careerism, cheating and widespead
emotional breakdowns. "What shocked me
Honigman is an attorney in Sterling Heights.

most, however, was the numbness, emotional
as well as moral, that I encountered
everywhere."
"Students are happy" is obviously a self-
serving view of reality. The University is
enormously dependent upon public good will.
Its reputation determines how well it will at-
tract money and students to its ivy halls. If
students weren't happy, something would be
wrong. But that is not to say that people in
power are insincere or are consciously lying.
Normal people really don't see or recognize
facts that make them uncomfortable.
Moreover, there's a strong feeling that people
who publicly complain are traitors to the in-
stitution. Dirty linen should not be aired in
public even at the cost of concealing rather
than cleaning the linen.
But when you conceal problems - they get
worse. And so the university operates over
time likena circuit with a one-way feedback
loop - certain values decay, and other values
keep growing, until the institution becomes a
hollow shell pretending to be something it's
not. The suppression of symptoms then
becomes a very valuable administrative tool.
No doubt a certain proportion of students
are truly happy in the university. This is a
great time in their lives, and no one can spoil
it for them. And of course, many students are
probably happy just because they are robust
and successful. Samuel Johnson was once
asked whether he would prefer to be happy or
to be human, and he replied that he supposed
it would be very fine to be a bull in a pasture
with his cow nearby and plenty of grass, but
that on the balance, he would prefer to be
human.
It's comforting to believe in the official ver-
sion of reality because everyone in society
urges students to trust their elders and bet-
ters - particularly in an educational context
where the university represents both the
parents that students left behind and the adult
world that lies ahead.
But as comforting as it is to accept the of-
ficial version of reality, there is a price to
pay. For some students, the price is never
growing up intellectually or emotionally.
These students are the "good" students who
always do what they are told. For other
students believing the official line is self-
destructive because the university says that if

you're not happy it's your own fault. Then the
only explanation for their unhappiness is that
they have done something wrong, or there is
something terribly wrong with them. In either
case, they feel they don't belong with the
normal happy people in the university. They
feel like the human beings surrounded by4
rhinoceroses in Ionesco's play.
That is not to say that students don't come to
the University with deep personal problems
left over from their childhood or family
relationships. But compare the institutional
line with common sense. The university
usually tells deeply unhappy students, "Why
don't you drop out for a while and get your act
together?" If the university is a more benign
environment than the outside world, why
should anyone be advised to leave in order to
get better? The advice makes sense only if the
university makes people sicker not better.
There are always hidden messages embed-
ded in institutions - not what the institution
says, but what it does and how it behaves.
When the official institutional reality is dif-
ferent from the actual social reality some
students will draw a shell around themselves
and withdraw into themselves the way a tree
turns off its external energies in the winte4
and waits for Spring. But many will absorb
the negative lessons which are embedded in
the university. The strong use the weak.
Reality is what the people in power say it is.
Success is more important than moral values
because people worship success. And human
feelings are a sign of weakness. In a perfectly
rational world, one pursues one's self-interest
and calculates profit-maximization just as
the university does when it impoverishes un-
dergraduates education for the greater good
of the institution.
Date rape is thus both an event within the
institution and a metaphor for what the in-
stitution does to each student who enters. It
welcomes them with open arms - promising
them a good experience, an enriching ex-
perience. It embraces them and holds them
firmly - for once a young lady or a young
man accepts an invitation to the university
they know what to expect. Their consent to
the policies and values of the university is
presumed to have been given at the door.E
Theseare the lessons that the university
teaches and the price of its separate reality.

Wasserman

MYK 9WUEN1T.DWAN? *DO'T W~O PY... Ak NEW OPPORTU~4tTY SOCIE.TY
5 .os,

'_I'PT V'NDS. OELL, LET'5 vgoa CASN YOUof oo?
l aa

4

Costly responsibility

THE PROGRESSIVE Student Net-
work may have accomplished
what it set out to do with the group's
sit-in at Prof. George Haddad's
laboratory last winter.
In the current trial of PSN members
charged with trespassing onĀ°Univer-
sity property, the verdict will not be
reached as quickly as in the first trial.
The present trial involves a sit-in con-
ducted by PSN last March in the Had-
dad's laboratory. Yesterday the jury
was not able to reach a unanimous
decision regarding the students' ac-
tions.
Although a hung jury could mean a
variety of things, in the case of PSN,
the inability of the jury to call a verdict
to a certain degree indicates a victory
for the defendants. PSN argues that
their individual reasons for commit-
ting the alleged offense-to protect the
University from a greater
harm-override the trespassing offen-
se.
PSN members involved in the March
action charged that Haddad, whose
research projects are funded by the
Department of Defense, was con-
tributing to the development of the
Phoenix Missile Project. Members

were outraged at the idea of the
University contributing to the arms
race by condoning such defense-
related research and staged the
demonstration in Haddad's lab to
make the community more aware of
the University's work for the defense
department.
With tha students' violation of the
trespass statute not at issue, the
reason for the hung jury is clear:
Jurors are considering the validity of
PSN's defense, and therefore con-
sidering the individual defendants'
rationales for demonstrating.
In this respect, PSN has accom-
plished what they set out to do. By
making the jurors aware of the im-
plications of their opinions and in
regard to the actions of University
researchers PSN is keeping the issue
in the public's eye. Although the in-
dividual student protesters will most
likely suffer for their actions,: the
University community has benefitted
from this demonstration. Still, infor-
ming oneself on the University's ac-
tivities should be the responsibility of
every student. Groups like PSN should
not have to bear the entire bur-
den-and the cost-of that respon-
sibility.

Letters
Article trivialized campus rape issue1

To the Daily:
Robert Honigman's article,
"Rape Springs from Loneliness"
was an interesting, often
penetrating, and undoubtedly
well meant piece about the dif-
ficulty men and women have in
forming lasting, meaningful
relationships with each other.
This is an extremely important
and worthy topic. Publication of
informed articles about it would
undoubtedly raise consciousness
about the annihilating effects. of
sexism an relationships between
men and women, particularly in
the setting of a competitive
university.
However, aside from a few
scattered, general statements
about rape, and the fact that it's a
problem, the article does not
engage the issue of rape on any
meaningful level. Instead, it
trivializes rape.
The-statement, "Rape springs
from loneliness" trivializes the
fact that rape is a violent, an-
tisocial crime, by garnering
sympathy for the poor, "lonely"
rapist.
Honigman speaks of rape as
"desperate behavior," in a class
with alcoholism, bulimia, and
emotional breakdown. Rape
should never be construed as
merely desperate behavior in the
same sense as these problems. In
startling contrast with these lat-
ter three, rape is a crime, in-
volving the violent subjugation
and invasion of another human
being besides the "poor lonely
rapist."

don't have any sympathy for
violent criminals of this type.
The type of loneliness I'm
talking about is the type that en-
sues from a woman refusing to go
out with a male acquaintence
because she fears he may be a
rapist. Or, the type of loneliness a
woman may feel when she is
unable to go to the movies, to the
library, or to meet friends'
because she has nobody to walk
with her, and is afraid to walk

alone, perhaps because she has
been raped before while walking
alone at night.
Or, the types of loneliness and
bitter frustration couples may
experience sexually because the
man is unable to shed the pre-
rapist conquest mentality toward
sex with women that society has
inculcated upon him.
If you, the reader, don't see this
type of loneliness as something
that directly affects you, please

consider the following question:
if you are a man, have you ever
tried to get a woman to go farther
than she wanted to with you
sexually? If you are a woman,
have you ever been exposed to
coercive sexual behavior from
man?
How did you feel?
-Rebecca P. Smith
March 7

Daily story was unfair to PIRGIM

To the Daily:
What gives you the audacity to
print such a biased and
misleading story about the
Regents' decision about
PIRGIM? Had your reporter
spoken to anyone besides the doc-
trinaire arch-conservative Deane
Baker, she would have
discovered much less of a clear-
cut consensus among the regents.
I won't mention the factual errors
in the piece. They should have
been ironed out in the editing
process, if there even was one.
Funding controversies have
always marred the clean image
of PIRGIM. Even Steve Angelotti
cannot attack PIRGIM's
educational value, and no
BLOOM COUNTY

responsible Ann Arbor 'civic
leader would argue that the chief
advocate for Night Ride, the
student voter registration drive,
and weatherization ordinances
was anything but a benign and
reasonable force on campus.
PIRGIM's problem is that it ap-
pears too low-key and thus inef-
fective, just because it chooses to
tackle problems through the
system. PIRGIM doesn't stage
sit-ins. It operates quietly and
with great success behind the

scenes, and I hope it intends to
stay there.
What PIRGIM needs is a
workable funding system, whic
is fair to all members of the
University community. It doesn't
need the doghouse. And it cer-
tainly doesn't need a yapping
schnauzer like the Daily
celebrating its premature
demise.
- David Rickter
February 1

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The Michigan Daily encourages input from

our readers. Letters should be typed, triple-
spaced, and sent to the Daily Opinion Page, 420
Maynard, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109.
by Berke Breathed
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