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April 03, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-04-03

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I

OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, April 3, 1985

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

MSA does serve students

A

Vol. XCV, No. 145

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

Empty talk

FOR THE first time in 15 years,
Ann Arbor will be controlled by
the Democratic party. Monday's elec-
tion saw all five of the incumbent
council members retain their seats,
but Democrat Ed Pierce defeated
Republican Richard Hadler in the
mayoral contest.
Although the Council proper remains
deadlocked with five representatives
from each party, the mayor's .vote
gives the Democrats the majority.
The last 15 years under the
Republicans have seen rapid growth in
the city that has displaced many of the
lower income residents and has
changed the very character of the city.
The population has grown
dramatically, putting demands on
available housing, and economic ex-
pansion has increased the value of un-
developed property.
Hadler campaigned with the intent
of maintaining the direction the city
has taken under the current mayor,
Lou Belcher. Belcher, who chose not to
run for reelection, has encouraged
downtown development without ad-
dressing the need for housing construc-
tion elsewhere.
The Democrats on the other hand
have been calling for additional low to
moderate housing for some time. Now
that they have a majority on Council,

they should begin to act on some of
their proposals.
Lowell Peterson, representative
from the first ward, has proposed a
building permit policy which would
require all downtown development to
provide housing projects elsewhere.
Although an indiscrimiante linking of
downtown development to housing
projects may be harmful to the Ann
Arbor community in the long run, the
proposal demonstrates an important
concern that will surely be acted upon
during the next year.
Another of Pierce's proposals is the
establishment of an entertainment tax
that 'would shift the current burden
from property owners to patrons of the
city's entertainment offerings. In prin-
ciple the tax would be imposed upon
events that attract visitors from out of
town, but in practice it threatens to add
additional expense for students, who
already pay a great deal of tax to the
city when the University uses some of
their tuition to pay for some city services
With control of City Council, the
Democrats are in a position to im-
plement many of the reforms that are
long overdue in low income housing..
Their overall vision for the city is a
welcome change from the Republican
agenda, but their specific changes will
have to be carefully monitored to in-
sure that businesses are not stifled and
that student concerns are upheld.

Editor's note: Two weeks ago Kevin
Michaels wrote an editorial declaring that
the Michigan Student Assembly had
"skewed priorities. " ("MSA has skewed
priorities, "Daily, March 21) The respon-
ses to the editorial came in two forms:
criticisms and support of his
philosophical stance and criticisms or en-
dorsements of his candidacy for MSA
president. In order to maintain the
philosophical debate over the nature of
MSA, we are running a series of editorials
reflecting diverse viewpoints on the issue.
We encourage letters endorsing any of the
candidates in the upcoming MSA elec-
tion, however, we cannot guarantee
publication.
By Steve Kaplan
Recently, the Michigan Student Assembly
was attacked for our "skewed priorities"
(Daily, March 21). In this opinion, Kevin
Michaels painted an inaccurate and incom-
plete picture of MSA. For example, Michaels
bases the claim that "MSA has a poor image
on campus which promotes student apathy
towards the assembly and a lack of respect
from the University Administration" on in-
nuendo, half-truths and twisted facts.
MSA's productivity is directly related to the
level of student participation in University
issues. If students are unwilling to get in-
volved with a project or event, then that
project or event never materializes. The
assembly's image cannot be responsible for
the low level of student participation. Many or
most students would rather study, party and
sleep than become involved in campus issues.
It is extremely naive to think that improving
the image of student government would cause
these students to suddenly participate: these
students do not even care what MSA's image
is.
Students who are interested in campus
issues are also the ones who areunlikely, to
remain on the sidelines because they do not
like the image of student government. In fact,
most of these students participate because
they are concerned and motivated to change
the way things are, regardless of any student
government. In short, the level of student in-
volvement in MSA is not a direct function of
MSA's image. It has much more to do with the
everyday reality of student life on campus:
grades, finances, personal relationships,
Kaplan is the vice-president of the
Michigan Student Assembly.

career interests, and competing ex-
tracurricular commitments.
Michaels declares that students "see a
student government out of control." In fact,
MSA is running wild, this year and every
year, offering students more services and
projects to get involved with than ever before.
MSA continues to offer group health insuran-
ce and group property insurance at a lower
cost than individual insurance. MSA
distributes over $20,000 each year to student
groups who sponsor or produce worthwhile
educational or cultural programs and events.
In addition to monetary awards to student
groups, we offer groups the opportunity to
advertise free their existence in a campus
wide publication, the Guide to Student
Organizations. MSA also facilitates student
groups through the bakesales and infor-
mation tables in the Fishbowl and MLB, by
allocating office space for groups in the
Michigan Union and Michigan League and by
centrally scheduling the campus film groups.
We are responsible for finding individual
students to represent the entire student body
on University-wide committees. MSA spon-
sors a free income tax assistance program in
our offices. MSA is responsible for publishing
the Course Evaluations booklet and the MSA
News. MSA supports the efforts of inter-
national students on campus to provide a
more personal atmosphere on campus. We
have initiated an annual Housing Fair which
gives students the opportunity to contact lan-
dlords in a central place.
These are the services that MSA provides
for students on campus. The typical student
seldom realizes that the Michigan Student
Assembly is responsible for all these services.
Nonetheless, each year thousands of students
are in one way or another affected by our ser-
vices. What MSA projects or events do
students notice? During last year's national
Presidential election, MSA invited both
Presidential candidates to campus. One of the
invitations was accepted, and over 10,000
heard Walter Mondale. MSA was not required
to offer these invitations. We made it one of
our important "priorities" for students to
have the opportunity to see the candidates in
person. Maybe the dollar in postage and
paper could have been better spent on "cam-
pus issues".
Some of MSA's important campus priorities
that Michaels' analysis ignored have had the
greatest impact on student life. MSA's
Women Issues Committee brought to the
forefront of public attention during a day long
. meeting with the Vice President for Student
Services. Why did Michaels not comment on
the historic event that provided the impetus
for the eventual implementation of an escort
service-which Michaels endorses as if it
were not already planned-and a more com-

prehensive proposal to improve campus
safety and the attitude of the University
towards such crimes against women?
Since 1970, the University has stated a goal
of 10 percent black enrollment. 15 years later,
the goal has not been met. MSA has fought for
the information and support necessary to
achieve the University's stated goal. MSA has
made it a priority to inform the students of the
University's progress. We have filed
Freedom of Information Act requests on
students' behalf to bring about a greater un-
derstanding of minority issues. There is
nothing "subjective" about "educating"
students for the purpose of rectifying racial
discrimination.
MSA, through its "skewed priorities",
educated the entire campus, faculty and
students alike, about the University's plan to
implement a code of nonacademic conduct.
The information MSA distributed on the code
helped students evaluate and understand the
code on their own. While some of that infor-
mation distributed could be considered "sub-
jective", it is important to realize that MSA's
postion on the code is based on a campus-wide
student referendum and on the positions
taken by student leaders. A more "objective"
treatment of the code was the MSA sponsored
code forum with President Shapiro. Over 400
people, including two regents and several
high-level administrators attended. The
students in attendance sent a message to the
administration that the code was unaccep-
table. As a result of MSA's "priority", the
Administration sent the entire code back to
committee.
Do not forget that MSA is nothing more than
a group of student volunteers committed to
serving students' needs and addressing im-
portant student issues. We are not
professionals able to offer 40 hour weeks to
student concerns. MSA is not perfect. Regret-
fully, MSA makes mistakes, even blunders.
These occurrences are usually front page
news. It is unfortunate that some cannot look
beyond these errors to see MSA's greater
good. As unpaid, overworked students who
also must study, do homework and eventually
plan for employment or education, we do the
best we can. Our only reward, and the only
reward we should receive, is the satisfaction
of knowing student interests are served.
MSA's priorities are students' priorities
because we are students, funded by students
and elected by students. But participation does
not start with being elected. For any student
on campus with an important concern,
project or event, MSA can provide the means
for its realization. Nor should participation
end with elections. To claim that MSA's
priorities are skewed is a misrepresentation
of the facts born out of purely personal and
political motivation.

A new direction

T HAS BEEN exactly six weeks sin-
ce the Iranian linked terrorist group
Islamic Holy War sentenced one of4
their American kidnap victims to
death. Since then, more kidnappings
have occured and the situation has
developed into one much like Carter
faced when the hostages were being
held in Tehran.
Yesterday, George, Schultz issued an,
ambiguous statement that execution of
any of the current American hostages
would cause the United States to take
actions in which Iran would suffer
serious consequences.
Somehow, it seems as if these hollow
threats have all been made before. It
reminds one of the little kid on the
block telling the neighborhood bully
that if he didn't get his football back
the bully would be in "real trouble." To
this the bully always laughed, knowing
that the kid had told him this time and
again and never had the courage to do
anything but call him a few names and
run away.
Consistent with precedent, National
Security Advisor Robert McFarlane
stated that the United States would not
be explicit as to what action it would

take in response to the possible
executions of its hostages. McFarlane
claimed that the element of surprise
was an advantage which must not be
relinquished.
It unfortunately seems as if the
United States doesn't have anything up
its sleeve, but rather is buttressing its
hollow threats with intentionally am-
biguous and unspecific answers in a
false attempt to sound serious.
To be sure, McFarlane actually did
go on to make a very intelligent
statement in which he elaborated that,
"If we do not use those forces where
their use is clearly justified, we get
neither the direct benefits nor the
deterrent value of having such forces
in the first place."
The United States is long overdue to
take action against acts of terrorism.
Admittedly, striking back at the right
people is the hardest part of the task,
but the world's strongest country has
been held hostage too long. It would be
a belated and pleasant surprise to find
that there is more than just emptiness
behind this country's latest retaliatory
threats, and that, with a little more ac-
tion, the United States might be able to
prevent its citizens abroad from being
abducted or executed.

Letters
Editorial took dangerous viewpoint

To the Daily:
The MUM Party Candidate for
President, Kevin Michaels, wrote
an opinion entitled "MSA:
Skewed priorities" (Daily, Mar-
ch 21). This article is disturbing
for at least one reason: Michaels'
vision of the role of student
governnent in university affairs
is misguided and dangerous.
Michaels's main point was that
MSA should not be in the business
of educating students. On the con-
trary, it is the responsibility of
students' elected representatives
to keep their constituencies in the
various schools and colleges in-
formed on university and
educational issues.
Students can act on and react to
those issues in an intelligent and
responsible manner only if they
are familiar with the issues. In
fact, one of the main reasons
students are at a disadvantage
vis-a-vis the university ad-
ministration and the faculty
when participating in university
decision making is students' lack
of knowledge on university and
education issues. Hence,
educating the student body is one
of the fundamental services MSA
provides.
Supposedly, Michaels would let
the administration tell us all we
need to know about the proposed
code or sexual assault on cam-
pus. This overlooks the fact that
one of the major reasons we do
not have a code now is because
MSA spent considerable time and
effort making sure students know
about the code. (Michaels, not
surprisingly, voted against spen-
ding MSA money on posters in-
forming students about how a
code would be approved.)
Similarly, it would be naive to
rely on the administration to
publicize sexual assault on cam-
pus when it considers such ac-
tivity a nnhli ral atinm nrnhlpn

entirely too subjective." To
restate Michaels'tgeneral
argument, studenits should
receive no student government
sponsored education at all
because that education would be
too subjective.,
To be honest, I have no idea
what an "objective" education
would consist of; the first thing
each freshperson learns at this
university-assuming he or she
had not realized it earler-is that
everything he or she reads or
hears comes from a particular
perspective. Students are thus
constantly faced with a choice:

they can either passively accept
how their instructors and univer-
sity administrators frame issues
or they can supplement those
perspectives with their own. MSA
has historically chosen to
facilitate the latter. Through its
funding of student sponsored
projects; periodicals and events;
and its own education campaigns;
MSA has assisted students who
wish to be heard. MSA has not
been and should not be mum
when students want help voicing
their opinions and concerns.
Is there another reason
Michaels objects to student spon-

.sored educational forums,
literature and projects? Michaels
also claimed in his article that
student sponsored education is
too liberal. He thus objects to all
student government sponsored
education on a philosophical
level, i.e. because it is too biased
towards students' perspectives.
Michaels also objects on political
grounds because he believes his
own right-wing beliefs are not
shared by most of the students.
Under the guise of "objectivity"
Michaels is trying to advance his
own political program.
-Eric Schnauferl
March 27

Author could learn from his nemesis

To the Daily:
I was disturbed by Brian
Leiter's somewhat incoherent ar-
ticle "Lessons of a Decadent
Age" (Tues., March 26th). It was
not clear whether the point, was
sincerely to bemoan the peren-
nial "decline of intellectual stan-
dards" or to use that overworked
cliche as a springboard for a
facile attack on Reaganism. If
the latter, then Mr. Leiter could
apparently learn a few "lessons"
of his own from his presidential
nemesis. Reagan, at least, knows
his constituency, and is unfor-
tunately quite successful in tran-
slating his outrageous and dim-
witted comments into broad,
grass roots political support.
Leiter, on the other hand, not only
fails to make an effective popular
appeal against Reaganism, but
also squanders an opportunity to
BLOOM COUNTY

display the "critical assessment"
he so prides himself on. He just
tells an "anecdote" of his own,
but it is spoiled by a tone of smug
elitism.
But suppose the article is to be
taken at its face value and Leiter'
really intends to decry the lost
cultural virtues of bygone days?
If so, he has plenty of Conser-
vative company. Indeed, this is
one charge often coming from the
Reagan camp that demands
closer scrutiny: "Why is it that in
our age of -modern technology,
mass media, widespread
literacy, and relative prosperity
we seem to produce fewer master
pieces and fewer geniuses?" It is
most likely an illusion. After all,
as the past recedes we keep
acknowledging and discovering
new heroes of culture who rival
their predecessors. Leiter cannot.

seriously believe it has been
downhill from Pericles and
Sophocles-he even himself has
kind words- for the "post-
Renaissance West" and apparen-
tly admires Foucault-so I would
like to know his favorite century.
But even if it were for
moment admitted that
democracy and "mass society"
have somehow diluted desirable
cultural values, it would only be a
sign of the most distorted ethical
priorities to wish to revert to the
"good old days" on those groun-
ds. In the final analysis, there is a
troublesome tension between
Leiter's hostility to Reagan's
reactionary politics on one hand,
and his own reactionary cultural
perspectives on the other.
-Adam R. Bernstein
March 27
by Berke Breathed

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