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September 10, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-09-10

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Page 4


Tuesday, September 10, 1985

The Michigan Daily


mt chtpan, atig .
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
VI, No. 4 420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Stifling the middle student

Vol. XC

ny Hungei
-he Congressional Budget Of-
fice's recent release of
statistics which indicate a sizable
drop in the number of person below
the poverty level has elicited
choruses of self-adulation from the
Reagan ranks.
For the Administration's suppor-
ters, the rise of approximately four
million Americans above the
poverty level (established as
$10,610 for a family of four), is
reason to rejoice.
Such myopic misinterpretation
of the brutal facts of poverty,
however, is an audacious insult to
those still struggling-whether
earning less, or a few pennies more
than $10,610 a year.
While the indicators of economic
recovery are valid, the seriousness
of the plight of the more than 30
million Americans who are of-
ficially hungry or denied decent
housing should not be discounted.
Unfortunately, the Administra-
tion is using the statistics to
celebrate the capacity of private
voluntary organizations (PVOs ) to
"fill in the gaps" where gover-
nment programs fail to provide
PVOs are currently stretching
their resources to the limits. The
generosity and efforts of church
groups and other private relief
Spark for'

r at home

providers who operate food pan-
tries, soup kitchens and shelters
are appreciable, but do not excuse
the Administration's responsibility
to care for the significant numbers
of Americans living below the
poverty level.
Sadly, in 1985 poverty has become
a problem among an increasingly
younger population. Where in the
1970s the majority of those suf-
fering from malnutrition and other
poverty related injustices were
elderly, today, 22.2 percent of the
nation's children (under 18) live in
The repercussions of so many
youngsters growing up disadvan-
taged and hungry is devestating to
both the individuals and the nation.
According to leading child nutrition
experts, cases of. severe
malnutrition resulting in the
wasting of the limbs of small
children-most often documented
in the the underdeveloped coun-
tries of the Third World-are being
found with alarming frequency in
major hospitals across the nation.
The escape of four million form
the official ranks of the poverty-
stricken is but another politically
manufactured myth: in the
wealthiest nation in the world, the
reality of more than 30 million of-
ficially impoverished persons is
nothing to celebrate.

By Robert D. Honigman
Third in a series
Whatever the reason, and they are ob-
viously many, the fact remains that most
students feel they cannot compete with their
professors and cannot relate to them in any
other way either. So they retreat into their
own world.
-Christopher Jencks and David Riesman,
The modern university is dominated by
professional elites. If the university as a
whole is a filtering device designed to reward
and encourage the academic personality at
the expense of other aspects of human
development, the existence of professional
elitism adds an even harsher dimension to
this screening process. For it is no longer suf-
ficient merely to be academically oriented,
you must also be a genius, the best in your
field. In a system dominated by superstars,
the average student, no matter how
academically competent, must feel inferior to
the top men and women who teach him.
Professional elitism is more than mere
professionalism. Suppose the law profession
were dominated by a mere thousand people at
the top, who set all the rules, assigned all the
work, and monitored admission to the
profession. Gradually, the profession would
become the servant of these elites, serving
them under the guise of serving the public.
Something like this happened in medicine un-
til doctors of osteopathy broke the AMA's
Honigman is an attorney in Sterling

Let's contrast a democratic social
organization with an authoritarian one. In a
democratic organization there are superstars
and they do indeed stand out and earn great
rewards, but their rewards are not dispropor-
tionate - that is, they do earn more than the
average person, but no one really envies them
or feels themselves to be a failure simply
because they can't compete with the super-
You might envy John McEnroe his success,
but you don't suffer in life merely because you
aren't John McEnroe. Nor do you believe that
John McEnroe is a better human being than
you are. In a hierarchical organization,
however, things are a little different. The
people who reach the top control the
distribution of wealth. They control the ac-
cess to information, they control how hard the
ordinary person works and the types of
rewards distributed to ordinary people.
Therefore, being an ordinary person in such
institutions is equivalent to being a second
class citizen.
Let me illustrate by an example. In the ac-
counting field, the Big Eight accounting firms
dominate the profession. Each firm has
world-wide offices and may have up to 20,000
professional accountants on its staff. But
usually, only ten percent of these
professionals are partners, and it is the par-
tners who make all the money. The remaining
accountants are given a trial period, during
which they are worked very hard and tested
relentlessly, and then nine out of ten of them
are eventually washed out.
Much the same thing happens in prestigious
Wall-Street type law firms. The young
professionals do the hard work, bringing in
far more in fees than they are paid, and then a
select few are admitted to partnership, while
the rest are washed out.

Much the same thing happens in academe.
The junior professionals and graduate
student teachers do most of the hard grinding
undergraduate teaching work - bringing in,
by the way, far more in tuition and state
revenue for such teaching than is expended in
their salaries. They progress up the ladder
where onlya few are eventually admitted into
tenured professional status,
In this kind of a system, people at the low
end of the scale tend to be exploited and they
tend to be nobodies. Moreover, by any
realistic appraisal, most of them will go
through life knowing that they can't hope to
reach the top of their profession because,
there is room at the top for only a few.
My point is that it is bad enough when the
academic sets himself or herself up as the
role model of what a student ought to be, but it
is infinitely worse when a superstar is erect
ted as the role model of what a student should
try to be. The effect is crippling.
I believe professional elites in higher
education turn students off because they don't
offer them any realistic or rewarding role
models. It's also my belief that the enormous
decline in SAT scores among the generation
between 1972 and 1982 is the result of this
academic failure to meet students half-why
and reassure them of their worth.h r
Professional elites dominate the world; of
higher education because we pay too much t
tention to the successes of academic and
scientific superstars and not enough attention
to the price we pay for their success. The
price, I think, is too high.
For the effect is a process which first in-
stills in the brightest of our youth the
highest hopes and then places them in; a
competitive race which only a few can
-Gagnon, 1960







m\ CIW - TU



C 1 t






W ith surprisingly little fanfare,
the Reagan Administration
took a positive step toward solving
some of the crises in Central
America yesterday when it sent
Assistant Secretary of State Elliot
Abrams to the Contadora peace
talks in Panama.
The Contadora peace talks were
first held in 1983 when represen-
tatives from Panama, Mexico,
Venezuela, and Colombia met to seek
means of preventing further
violence in the already troubled
,region. They have met
sporadically since then, and have
been on the verge of forwarding a
treaty encompassing solutions to
many of the regions problems more
than once, but in each instance last
minute complications have preven-
ted any formal steps from being
taken. Last year, the United States
rejected -a proposed treaty that
would have allowed Nicaragua to
maintain an internal army to com-
bat Contra forces. The U.S. then
used its influence to persuade other
central American countries such as
Honduras not to sign the treaty.
The Contadora talks represent
once of the few tangible hopes for
progress in the area. With El

Salvador embroiled in a bitter civil
war and Nicaragua countering U.S.
backed guerrilla forces there is
already a great deal of de facto
military conflict. With some Contra
forces operating out of other Cen-
tral American countries and Hon-
duras staging joint military excer-
sizes with U.S. troops on the
Nicaraguan border the entire area
looks as if it might explode into
bloody high-technology war.
The current Reagan position
toward Nicaragua calls for a trade
blockade that is forcing the San-
dinista government there to depend
increasingly on Cuban and Soviet
aid and diminishing chances for an
easing of tensions between the U.S.
and Nicaragua.
Simply sending an ambassador
to take part in the Contadora talks
hardly indicates a change in policy
by the Reagan Administration, but
it is encouraging that the Reagan
Administration is according in-
creased attention to the talks.
There will undoubtedly be years of
tension before any substantial ad-
vances are made in Central
America, but the more seriously
the U.S. engages in negotiations
about the area, the more likely that
peace will come sooner.




, i\
" . 1





--- -

Pouvez-vous lire cet article?

By Michael J. Dunne
A traditionally gloomy topic of
conversation among Michigan
undergraduates is the dreaded
language requirement enforced
by the college of Literature,
Science and the Arts. Traditional
because, for several years, most
students have been face with the
task of meeting the requirement.
Gloomy because individuals
resent being obliged to study a
second language for four
A legitimate gripe, you say?
Let us not forget that L.S.A. stan-
ds for Literature, Science and Ar-
ts and that a liberal arts
education necessarily includes
exposure to a wide variety of sub-
jects. Such diversity instills in
each student a greater cultural
and intellectual level of
awareness.Given that language
is the basis of culture, what bet-
ter way to appreciate different
cultures than to explore foreign

line of one's tuition and one's
right to choose courses at will.
Indeed, payment of the tuition
bill simply permits entry into the
University system. Everyonesis
still subject to the guidelines set
forth by the directors of his
respective colleges.
Most students' attitude toward
the language requirement policy
at Michigan is pitiful. En-
thusiastic language students are
frequently disillusioned by their
peers' apathy toward the study of
foreign languages.
This indifference is, in part,
responsible for the sweeping
surge of ethnocentricism among
young Americans and is
detrimental to fostering greater
understanding among peoples
across the globe. Furthermore,
the quality of language classes at
the University can only diminish
as such. attitudes continue to in-
Students who consider the

language requirement a piece of
aggravation should, instead,
recognize the value of language


g as a vehicle for
fing their narroved
d horizons.

.. -- -

The Opinion Page Editors
Michigan Daily are seeking

of the

S v _
aSR cp-

working, politically, aware people to
join the Opinion Page staff in our 96th
year of publication. Interested students
should submit writing samples to
Joseph Kraus, Jody Becker, or Karen
Klein in the Senior Office of the
Michigan Daily, Student Publications
Building, 420 Maynard St. or attend the
Mass Meeting on Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Interviews will be scheduled on an in-
dividual basis.

-, -
G .

apAR1 1E1D

9L s

by Berke Breathed'I


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