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March 04, 1986 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-03-04

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4

OPINION

Page 4 Tuesday, March 4, 1986

The Michigan Doily

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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

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Vol. XCVI, No. 103

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board

MSA
k ichigan Student Assembly
should be applauded for
realizing its role as a student lobby
group to fight for students interests
at a federal and university level
and anything in between. In recent
months, student government at
,some of the University's peer in-
stitutions have debated student
government's role in crucial
movements. The perennial issue of
"political" versus "non-political"
or "student" concerns comes up at
MSA, but for the most part MSA
has recognized that there is not a line
between "politics" and "student
interests."
On the other hand, at Harvard
University the recently established
"Undergraduate Council just held a
referendum. The referendum
asked whether or not the Council
should express an opinion on the
issue of Harvard's half of a billion
dollars invested in companies that
do business in South Africa.
Given Harvard student's history
of pro-divestiture activism, it is not
surprising that students voted
overwhelmingly to call for a stance
by the council. A number of council
representatives felt uncomfortable
with making a judgement on the
major issue to dominate student
politics at Harvard since the Viet-
nam War.
Despite the fact that its im-
-inediate predecessors and unof-
ficial forebearers supported total

Politics
divestiture, some council members
wonder whether or not its En-
dowment for Divestiture is an ap-
propriate council program.
Created by the Council, The En-
dowment for Divestiture gives
students the option of donating
money to Harvard through an
escrow fund which Harvard
couldn't use until it divested or the
UN determined that apartheid had
been eradicated.
Across the country, the Unvier-
sity of Chicago's student gover-
nment voted against sponsoring a
talk by Noam Chomsky, one of
America's leading intellectuals
and political critics.
Simultaneously, it voted to finance
a speech on love and sex by a
Playboy representative. The
student government reasoned that
supporting Chomsky would be
political. Ironically, femininsts
picketed the Playboy speaker so
the University of Chicago student
government embroiled itself
poltically after all.
It should be obvious that there is
no need for student government if
the University or federal gover-
nment represents student interests
as well as the students' own lobby
group. As long as MSA represents a
student interest and is not just an
auxiliary consulting body for the
Reagan or Shapiro administration,
its actions will be political by
definition,

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I
I

Calendar enhances stereo type'

Setting priorities

-
he courageous resignation of-
Laurence Norris from
Michigan Student Assembly
Minority Affairs Committee will
enable MSA to resume the battle
against racism. Instead of worring
about internal proprieties, MSA
can return to pressuring the
: University to adopt the gaols of
former Minority Affairs Commit-
tee Chairman Roderick Linzie's
Sreport.
Linzie's report points out the
evils of the academic "revolving
'door" for minorities. Minorities do
not benefit by University recruit-
Inent if they arrive at the Univer-
ity only to find an irrelevant,
alienating or even hostile environ-
ment. Linzie's report calls for
greater efforts towards "reten-
tion" in addition to recruiting effor-
ts.
As a student-funded institution,
MSA should work in a coalition to
fight racism. MSA's resources
should support demands for
minority faculty hiring and.
programs such as Afro-American
Studies which are directly relevant
to the minority experience. The
movement to divest University
stocks from companies that do
business with South Africa should
also receive MSA priority. By

taking appropriate action and
using its resources, MSA can help
improve the racial climate of the
University community.
MSA should pressure the Unvier-
sity to continue to encourage
minorities who succeed in the
mainstream. At the same time, the
anti-racist coalition must urge the
University to recognize
achievement on many levels in ac-
cordance with the aspirations and
standards of the minority com-
munity. Failure to recruit minority
faculty and retain minority studen-
ts demonstrates that the Univer-
sity's standards of "relevance"
and "success" often obscure
minority goals and contributions.
Unfortunately, an administrator
hired a student to work in a field
which directly related to his
student government respon-
sibilities. The effect of this action
has been to divert the community's
energies from tasks relevant to the
minority experience at the Univer-
sity. University administrators
should not allow this to happen
again, especially in an area as sen-
sitive as minority affairs. Norris's
resignation will allow everyone to
focus once again on the issues of
Linzie's report.

By Rebecca Chung
When the planned publication of the
"Women of Michigan" calendar was an-
nounced, a low-key yet palpable buzz of ex-
citement immediately ensued. Short yet
vehement discussions on the calendar
seemed to crop up everywhere, displaying
responses ranging from absolute condem-
nation to "What should I wear?"
The issue at hand is the way the women on
this campus are viewed and it's bound to hit
a few raw nerves. According to Neil
Rosemann, president of Entrepreneurial
Investors, desperate measures are
necessary : "The calendar can only help
their image. It can't get much worse."
Rosemann has elected himself savior of the
female Wolverine reputation, determined to
"show there are good-looking Michigan
Women." Is this admirable or despicable?
Yes.
The idea that University women are unat-
tractive has its roots in a deeper and
unquestionably sexist notion : a female
cannot be intelligent and good-looking at the
same time. The University of Michigan is
the most academically demanding in-
stitution in the state, and one of the best
schools in the nation. It follows that a
human being must be fairly intelligent to
become a student here. Obviously, the
females on this campus must possess some
brains. Ergo, they cannot be attractive.
(This chain of reasoning is comforting to
those who are not accepted to the Univer-
sity: "Michigan State has all the pretty
girls").
This misconception deserves to be an-
nihilated. It demeans women by evaluating
their worth by a factor beyond their control.
It cripples their minds by forcing their at-
tentions on shallow concerns instead of
more challenging matters. In general, the
emphasis on appearance over character
causes irreperable damage to the aging
woman, the homely woman , the disabled.
or disfigured woman. For most women,
who are only less-than-perfect, it can mean
lacking the self-confidence to take charge or
to say no.
Rosemann seems to believe that if the
calendar is a success, all of the women on
campus will vicariously share in it. It will
be a shot in the arm, a reaffirmation of wor-
th, a final blasting of unfair criticism.
University women will see themselves in
those high-cheekboned, smooth-skinned
bodies.
First of all, it is important to examine the
implication of the charge levied against
University women. They are unattractive ;
at least, they are the least attractive women
in the state, or the Big Ten (depending on
which out-of-town rival the football team is
up against). This insult tends to fly during
fall term, while other tests of manhood are
in progress. For some reason, a lack of
physical beauty on the part of the Wolverine
females is a cause for shame among the
males. Many University females will testify
Chung, an RC sophomore, is the Daily
Book Review editor.

that the average Wolverine male is not won-
derous to behold, yet they do not consider
this fact a reflection on the quality of the in-
stitution. One could substitute "buildings"
for "girls" in the Michigan State contention
and not change the thrust of the statement
very much.
The very idea that there are no beautiful
women on campus is laughable, as a quick.
walk to the Diag will prove. In addition, the
average female at the University has more
opportunities to improve on what nature
gave her than almost any other set of
women around. She often has the income to
Pantene her hair, L'oreal her face, Bennet-
ton her body, and coordinate her Reeboks
to her running outfits. In any group of ten
women, one of them will probably have the
ability to read French. More impor-
tantly, all Michigan women are exposed to a
greater diversity of dress, hairstyle and
panache than anyone at a less cosmopolitan
school can claim. It does not take long to
realize that there are many ways to be at-
tractive - and most do not require expen-
sive outfits, cellophaned curls, or even
svelte figures.
The shame question is far more serious.
It's very simple - the people who en-
courage that sort of parley need to under-
stand what kind of message they're handing
to their fellow students. To make the point
clear : How would men feel if women made
jokes that implied that a University male's
sexual imcapability (compared to other
college males) was directly related to the
size of a specific and unique part of his
anatomy? (For example, one could say
"There is' more than one reason why the
University does not belong in the Big Ten.")
Would a calendar proving that.Wolverine
men did not lack inches be sufficient to
dispel such an illusion? Should this
reputation reflect badly on the University?
(Yes, this is hitting below the belt. Tur-
nabout is fair play.)
Which brings up the next point - the
"Women of Michigan" calendar will not do
very much to alleviate the problem. For
those who don't know, the method of selec-
ting models is as follows : there will be ten
student judges, picked from the major dor-
mitories on campus. Aiding them will be a
professional photographer, a cosmetologist,
and a fashion coordinator. Applicants are
expected to show up wearing outfits they
feel represent them best (formal, bathing
suit, etc...). They will be photographed and
questioned by the students. According to
Rosemann, applicants will be picked simply
by asking the males "which ones are pret-,
ty," although he has said that he will try to
find out something about their personalities.
There are some problems here. First of
all, no attempt is being made to emphasize
that the selected University women have
more going for them than their looks. Any
non-Wolvering will probably look at the
calendar, think, "Yeah, well, sure, there's a
few pretty ones" and put it down. They will
equate University prettiness with all female
prettiness - ergo, they lack brains. That
still leaves the rest of the women in the
same predicament in which they started.
Secondly, the diversity of males on this

campus goes far beyond the difference bet-
ween Bursley inhabitants and Hill dwellers.
There are also graduate students, law and
medical students, and fraternity members.
One assumes that there is a difference bet-
ween a freshman's and a senior's concep-
tion of desirability as well. Male students
need to see that this calendar is not only
representing University women, but
University men's taste in women as well.
Men who have specific ideas on this subject
are going to be a bit upset if their preferen-
ces are not recognized (and they won't buy
the calendar).
These flaws are not difficult to correct,
but to do so, the nature of the calendar
would have to be changed. It would require
the submission of transcripts and resumes.
It would involve the participation of more
men. Instead of waiting for applicants to
come to them, they might have to seek them
out; there may be women who do not realize
how attractive they are to their peers.
Perhaps the name itself would have to be
changed,.to something like "The Outstan-
ding Women of Michigan Calendar." Per-
sonally, I think it would sell better. The
reaction of students from other schools
would be priceless: "She's majoring in.
what? And she looks like that?' Rosemann
could probably expect to sell it to women as
well.
As it stands now, the calendar will
probably do more harm than good. As men-
tioned earlier, Rosemann assumes that all
University women will identify with the
beauties in the photographs. Any woman
who has thumbed through a fashion
magazine could tell him differently. Beauty
alienates women from each other, because
it is a determining factor in their worth.
Pretty women attract more attention
anyway (although not necessarily more
respect). If the calendar sells, most
University women aren't going to feel any
differently about themselves. They will
merely hear another- chorus of "pretty
women are both more interesting and more
valuable."
But if the calendar doesn't do well, the
resulting fallout could be devastating. Ef-
fectively, it would say: "Extensive market
research has proven that the physical ap-
pearance of University women is not a
strong enough motivating factor to induce
sales among consumers." Women at the
University have enough problems as it is,
worrying about minor things like grades,
career plans, and personal fulfillment.
Another blow to their self-esteem just isn't
necessary, particularly in the form of ap=
peasing misguided sentiments, disguised as
"helping their image". Rosemann should
have stuck to just wanting to make
money...or at least asked the women of this
campus some questions before he declared
he was saving them.
Tryouts are being held today, March 4.

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