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April 20, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-04-20

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OPINION
Page 4 Saturday, April 20, 1985 The Michigan Daily

E1 e dstunigan t Mii
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Bureaucracy hurts housing

Vol. XCV, No. 160

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

I

The Bell told

O nce upon a time there was an ex-
citing bar on campus. And this bar
was a nightspot that catered to the
students and was very popular. And
this restaurant was stuffed with more
tradition than an orthodox bar mit-
zvah. On 21st birthdays it was the
scene of great festivities, where young
students, previously virgin to the
public pleasure of the bottle, would
guzzle pitchers of brew while perched
on tabletops as the famous "bell"
rang joyously in ritualistic celebration
of the event. And this restaurant was
the place for all to come and carve
their names onto tabletops and into
Ann Arbor history. And this restaurant
was the bastion of support for anything
maize and blue and the unofficial
museum for the University's athletic
teams.
Thursday morning this restaurant
was the scene of a massive auction,
symbolically the dirt on the grave of a
long-standing part of Ann Arbor
history.
The Pretzel Bell closed in December
because owner Clint Castor, Jr. failed
to pay employee withholding taxes
amounting to more than $100,000. The
restaurant had also continued a
decade-or-so long skid from popular
appeal to students towards popular
appeal to alumni and other "older"
folk not attending daily classes at the
University.
What the Pretzel Bell needed was a

manager who continued to promote the
restaurant as a hotspot for students.
Most students are probably greeting
the hue and cry over the P-Bell's
closing with a shrug. It was never
"their place." Rather, it was a pricey
place for Dad to take them after foot-
ball games.
Even so, anyone who has been to the
Pretzel Bell cannot help but feel a
twinge at the loss of the archieves and
tradition. The P-Bell was a celebration
of the Ann Arbor experience, of what it
means to be a student at the Univer-
sity. It was a place where a freshman
could get a sense of what had gone
,before. There is value in that sense
beyond simple nostalgia.
Although the students of today suroly
extend their condolences to the stude -,,
ts a generation removed from 4nni Ag-
bor, they feel sorrow oOJy -eSause and
interesting place in whicb o ininFiefe
onself amongst hke d cuimert o*
University history'. v fow '-ra ilfi .
Those alumni emot oallygonne Itoe
the P-Bell as ,. re.ric have l°sV't.a
cherished tradition tow hich ty O
no longer retur; 6 n fuitir
homecomings-s.1
This leaves Ann Arbor ."wi t fhe
Fleetwood Diner, Nickel's Arcade, and'
Drakes (amongst a few others , as the
pallbearers who will now be part of an
even smaller society carrying Ann Ar-
bor tradition on their collective
shoulders as we look forward to yet
another generation.

By Robert D. Honigman
Last in a series of three
The major mark of institutional en-
vironments is that they are standardized
and uniform. The meaning of the message
is unambiguous: people are not com-
petent to affect their immediate environ-
ment; people are not worth very much.
- Sim Van der Ryn and
Murray Silverstein,
Dorms at Berkeley, 1967.
- Sim Van der Ryn and Murray Silverstein,
Dorms at Berkeley, 1967.
*******************************
More than a quarter of a century ago, when I
submitted a housing report to the University's*
Director of Student Housing, Dr. Peter A.
Ostafin, he kindly advised me, "Don't expect
immediate changes, Bob. 20 years is a short
period of time in the life of an institution."
Some nineteen years later I returned to the
University and as fate would have it, spoke
with Dr. Ostafin again. The University's
housing picture had changed, and it now had a
post-freshman dorm on North Campus, as
well as Oxford Housing apartments for single
students near main campus. Yet by and
large, housing conditions were worse for
students than they had been 20 years before.
And what struck me most forcibly was that
the climate of relations between the Univer-
sity and students had also changed. The in
oco pirentis doctrine was gone, but so was
-any sens tivity on the part of the University to
stii entoblems or any share in respon-
it forsolving those problems.
.*glegtsr As adults, still have problems
0 hieb Ihbdividually they are unable to solve -
eard' 1ea2gepart of these problems have
-a as n housing problems. Individuals
nlt- sov housing (and transportation)
-ptobIows alone, because many features of
Jpuiug'require central planning and coor-
di1atign. Throwing students into the local
'coniipunity with its inadequate housing
mrarket has always seemed to me to be part of
a general pattern of taking the transients and
the, low-status individuals in the community
and exploiting them, a pattern followed both
by the University and the City of Ann Arbor.
What accounts for the University's insen-
sitivity to students?
It seems to me that self-interest and in-
stitutional interest overlap and are logically
confused in the minds of those who run in-
stitutions. Take for example, the head of a
warehouse company. Now suppose a janitor
regularly wastes about $25 worth of cleaning
materials a month. In a small, one warehouse
company, this waste isn't a major concern,
but in a large, 1,000 warehouse company, this
amounts to $25,000 in waste each month, or
Honigman is an attorney in Sterling
Heights.

$300,000 annually. So in a large concern, the
janitor is heavily penalized for wasting assets
and tight controls are instituted.
This is how large scale institutions become
inhuman. The people at the top tell them-
selves that they are doing this for the good of
the institution and all of its members, but they
really care little about the wellbeing of the
average member. They are obsessed with
growth and expansion and the company's
competitive position in the marketplace.
They want to reinvest this $300,000 in another
warehouse, or rather, $250,000 in a new
warehouse, and $50,000 as a salary increase
for those who caught the waste. The feelings
of the janitor are considered unimportant.
There's a quasi-legitimacy to this line of
thinking that makes it very seductive - for
all it does is make the institutional interest
paramount to that of individuals. But the bot-
tom line effect is always to make the average
individual in the system the victim of the
large-scale institution and its interests.
This is what happened to student housing at
the University. Student housing is dominated
by values related to institutional efficiency,
administrative feasibility and convenience.
There's no question that these are matters of
some value and importance - but it's equally
true to say that they should not be the
overriding and dominant concerns of the
University or its housing because the system
deals with education and human develop-
ment. The janitors in this case are students,
and their feelings do matter!
You can pretend to teach people who feel
exploited and worthless in a large scale in-
stitution, but you are merely training and
disciplining them. Students won't learn from
people they perceive as arrogant and insen-
sitive, and what is worse, they will hate
education itself. They will learn authoritarian
values and a trade perhaps, but none of the
humanity or wisdom that science and art can
teach. That is why a unversity, and especially
its housing, cannot be run as a business or
make institutional goals paramount to human
feelings.
This is not a debate over the amount of
money invested in housing. A poor system of
housing can be an adequate home if it is
responsive to the wishes and needs of its
inhabitants, while a wealthy housing system
can be a prison if it is inflexible and
manipulative. They key issue is how the
system is governed, and the fault of the
University's housing program is that it is not
governed at all, it is merely administered.
The present government of student housing
at the University is bureaucratic and
technocratic. Keep in mind a clear distin-
ction: an airline pilot is absolutely necessary
to operate and fly a modern plane, but it is the
passengers who determine where the plane
will go. Not so in the case of University housing
programs. The direction and nature of
University housing programs are set by the

people who will operate them - hence the
enormous value set on regularity, confor-
mity, inflexibility, and economic feasibility.
Yet housing is one area of the University
where a good argument can be made that the
system must serve student interests
primarily. University housing is largely self-
funding (for those who buy the specious
argument that students can't determine
educational policies if they don't fund them).
The federal government, taxpayers, alumni
and faculty may all have some interest in
where and how students are housed, but no
one can seriously argue that student housing
policies are designed to serve these interests
at the expense of students' own well-being.
For that reason, a great deal of what goes on
in University housing should reflect student
wishes and needs, not those of anyone else.
The answer to student housing problems is
ultimately a political one - how to make the
University's housing responsible to students.
I think the operation of the Michigan Daily
gives one clue as to how to approach the
problem, although I'm not here suggesting
that students should play any technical role in
operating University housing. The Daily
operates under the aegis of a Board in Control
of Student Publications which is selected
largely by the Daily student staff itself in con-
sultation and with the consent of University
officials.
Until about ten years ago, there was a
Board in Control of University residence
halls, so it is not a novel idea to resurrect a
Housing Board to again set the policies and
values of student housing - with this one dif-
ference from the old Board. Students will
select people they respect and trust to staff
the Board. The University's consent to the
members selected will assure a proper an
responsible constituency without interfering
in the actual administration of the housing
policies, and in the background, the Regents
may always exercise superintending control.
This Board should select and appoint the
Director of University Housing to free this
position from the domination of the Univer-
sity bureaucracy. A director who reports to a
board which can neither hire nor fire anyone
will soon usurp the Board's functions. The
head of a police department, for example, is
always appointed by the mayor to make the
position politically responsible to the peopl
being served.
The present system of operating student
housing may indeed run like a smoothly oiled
machine, but no one wants to live in a
smoothly oiled machine. The educational
purposes of a university are not well served
by a system that is unresponsive, inflexible
and monopolistic. An education system
equips students with more than just the
analytic tools to change their lives and en-
vironments - it equips them with the actua
experience of change and the self-confidence
of success. Without these tools their education
is still-born.

Star Wars

t is a big deal. As anti-nuclear ac-
ivist Helen Caldicott predicted
during a February lecture in Ann Ar-
bor, Star Wars may be coming soon to
a University lab near you. Several
University researchers have submit-
ted proposals to compete for $4,360,000
in Department of Defense funding to
conduct research for the Strategic
Defense Initiative: Reagan's most ill-
-conceived and expensive military
scheme yet.

i

Any effort at the University to design
and deploy Reagan's imagined missile
shield in the stratosphere implies a nod
of approval for a defense system which
has been maligned for its complete
lack of technological feasability. Ac-
cording to the Union of Concerned
Scientists, extensive analysis indicates
that the Strategic Defense Initiative
"offers no realistic hope of achieving
the President's goal of an imper-
meable defense against nuclear at-
tack."
Still, those University researchers
responsible for initiating proposals for
Star Wars research and development
here are enamored with the idea, and
afflicted with the illusion that such an
escalation of the arms race is "no big
deal", as electrical engineering

professor John Meyer stated.
The use of University resources to_
bolster any sort of military research is
a very big, deplorable deal indeed.
While the Star Wars research into elec-
tronic survivability and advanced
laser technology is likely to be passed
off as non-classified, and therefore not
subject to University guidelines which
prohibit any research which might
conceivably "destroy human life or in-
capacitate human beings," the fact
remains that a defense system is the
stuff of war.
The University's involvement is un-
conscienable. Not only will University
facilities and affiliates be feeding the
burgeoning United States military
complex, important international
agreements will be threatened with the
inception of Star Wars. Provisions of
the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
which prohibit the development,
testing, and deployment of space-
based missile defenses will be directly
violated.
A university is a place for inquiry
and exploration into both academics
and the self. Stars Wars may come to
Ann Arbor as unclassified research. It
can only be hoped that those involved
will do a bit of soul-searching before
they start researching.

Letters
Greek spirit neither shared nor fair

To the Daily:
On Saturday, April 6, the Daily
printed a letter ("Unfair claim
mars Week") from the Greek
Week Steering Committee's co-
chairman, Kevin Park, regar-
ding his version of the lack of par-
ticipation by Sigma Alpha Ep-
silon in this year's Greek Week.
He tells a story quite different
from the truth.
The Steering Committee
believed that Greek Week would
benefit from providing a random
way of pairing fraternities and
sororities for competition. For.
this, they enlisted the help of a
computer. When "Random
Pairing Day" came, Sigma
Alpha Epsilon was paired with
Traingle Fraternity and
Collegiate Sorosis Sorority.
Triangle is the largest, small
fraternity on campus, with 60
members. Sorosis is one of the
smallest sororities with 35 mem-
bers. SAE has 82 brothers. Sim-
ple addition gives you 142 men, 35
women. Our "Optional" pairing
party reflected this imbalance.
We were frustrated by the uneven
pairing afforded our trio.
We became suspicious of the
randomized pairings when a
member of another fraternity
pointed out that the trial run of
the computer program turned out
the same pairs as the final run.
How random was this program?
Members of our house asked to
see a copy of the program; they
were denied the request many
times. We were told we were
being "bad sports."
Officers in our house tried to
clarify the situation with the
Greek Week Committee, and
pointed out that with such an

they responded by returning our
$75 registration fee. They offered
no explanation. (The $75 was
later donated to charity).
It is regretable that the article
on the incident "Greeks Raise
over $20,000," Daily, April 2) did
not go into greater detail of the
lack of unity Greek Week '85
brought tothe Greek Community.
For instance, how about the team
who imported fraternity mem-
bers from MSU because their
local members were at a formal

out-of-state? Their team was
disqualified. Many other houses
talk openly about their apathetic
attitude toward this year's ac-
tivities.
Furthermore, SAE is appalled
at the implication that we do not
participate in charitable events.
This year, SAE took first place in
the Delta Gamma philanthropy,
Anchor Splash. Also, our 50 year
tradition of the Mudbowl Football
game, as well as our 12 year
tradition of outdoor music events,

and Mudbowl Mashes have all
benefited charities.
We hope in the future, Greek
Week Steering Committees will
make an effort to keep the
pairing fair and simple, and the
competition in a sporting, yet en-
joyable, nature. The Greek
Community cannot afford more
of this type of unity.

j

--Jeffrey Burg
April14*
Burg is a member of Sigma
Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.

Abortion a woman's right

.,,
ii
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- \
U2'
W:i.

To the Daily:
I am very worried because the
freedom that many women in our
country have is in danger. I am
speaking of the right for a woman
to have an abortion if she so
chooses. With Jerry Falwell and
his moral majority trying to in-
fluence President Ronald Reagan
at every available opportunity, I
am afraid that one of the rights
that a woman has-abortion-is
in jeopardy.
Anti-abortion enthusiasts
maintain that it is cruel and
inhuman to destroy a human life.
They believe that human life
begins at the moment of concep-
tion, unlike many other people. I
whole heartedly agree with. he
anti-abortionists concerning the
beginnings of human life;
however, I cannot agree with
their points that a human life
BLOOM COUNTY

cannot be taken if the circum-
stances are correct.
One of the circumstances that
necessitates an abortion is rape.
It is ridiculously absurd to force a
woman, who has been
dehumanized through the act of
rape, to have the unwanted child.
The complications that could
arise after the child is born are
numerous. The mother could
take out her frustrations, caused
by the rapist, on the child by
abusing him/her. Even worse,
the mother might not want to
keep the child. She could simply
leave the child in the streets one
day, similar to the way one tosses
out the garbage.
Financial circumstances are
also very important when con-
sidering the elimination of abor-
tion. A family could simply not
have enough money to support a

child. This would result in har-
dship not only for the newborn
and the family as a whole, but
also for society. Oftentimes, the
situation exists when illegitamite
children are born. This situation
results in almost certain povr rty
for the woman and the child
because the woman would be
unable to get a job. Once again,
we can see the case of suffering
for both the family and society.
A woman's body is her own and
nobody else's. Her body should
not be subjected to laws that will
eventually end up to her
detriment. Women should hav
the choice to do what they please
with their bodies. This great
country of our s is based on he
principle of freedom of choice,
and women should by no means
be excluded from this freedom.
-Alan Harris
April 2
by Berke Breathed

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