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April 21, 1986 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-04-21

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Monday, April 21, 1986

The Michigan Daily

I

A

'democratic

code' is an

oxymoron

LAST Thursday the. University
Council released a discussion
draft of proposed procedures for
the University to use to handle
violent crimes. Despite a last-ditch
effort by a University ad-
ministrator, the University Council
draft is only a discussion draft, not
something intended for imminent
implementation. Rather than brag
about its accomplishment, the
University Council had the in-
tegrity to endorse its own report
with qualifications. The year's
worth of efforts of the faculty,
student and administrator mem-
bers of the Council demonstrates
the difficulty of coming up with
reasons for having a code of non-
academic conduct.
STILL NO REASON FOR
A CODE
The fundamental flaw with the
idea of a code is that there is no
reason to circumvent the legal
system and hand power over
students to administrators. The
code is not only unnecessary. It is
positively a pernicious power grab
by administrators, who will happen
to expand their functions and hence
create more potential jobs for
themselves.
Students already live under an
imposed code of non-academic
conduct. The regents are the for-
mal authority of the University.
None of the regents are students.
Indeed, under the existing rules of
the University, the regents or
President Shapiro using the first
clause of the regents' by-laws can
change the rules of the University.
There is no incentive for students to
even consider a code that does not
grant them any final power in the
amendment procedure.
The University's position against
granting Nelson Mandela an
honorary degree because of a
regents by-law against honorary
degrees in absentia is only one
example of the kind of
bureaucratic arbitrariness that
passes for reasoning under the

current system of rules. This in ad-
dition to the University's threat to
disband the University Council, the
threat to by-pass student gover-
nment completely by overturning
regents by-law 7.02, the Univer-
sity's handling of demonstrations
this past year and its attempt to
convict students of trespassing in
the Student Activities Building do
not give students any reason to
trust the administration with final
say over a code of non-academic
conduct for students.
PROTECTING STUDENTS
Whatever its flaws, the legal
system for criminals does not ask
defendants to trust their
prosecutors. Under the University
Council's proposed code accused
students would not have the power
to subpoena their prosecutors or
anyone else and would face double-
jeopardy and anti-legal rules for
evidence. In essence, the ad-
ministration wants power to
determine what is evidence, who is
the jury, what the jury says and
what the penalty is. Still, the
University says that it wants all
this to protect students.
The current legal system,
however, already provides the
University the possibility of ob-
taining an injunction against a
student accused of a serious crime.
The court system can keep an
alleged criminal off campus. This
does not occur often, not because
the courts are reluctant to grant in-
junctions, but because as Shapiro
acknowledges, in a normal school
year, the University encounters no
cases where such an injunction or
an extra-legal code is necessary.
One kind of protection students
really do need is protection from
administrators. According to
lawyer Jonathan Rose, he once had
to defend a student who broke a
University table. The University
tried to expel the student from the
dormitory. In another case, the
administration tried to sue the
students in an elevator when the

elevator broke and left its occupan-
ts stuck inside. There is a minority
of top University bureaucrats,
especially in areas concerning day-
to-day life such as the Housing
division that wields tremendous
power. The sense of fairness of
these people often differs from that
of students.
Currently, the University has
strings on the money that the
Michigan Student Assembly collec-
ts. Those strings stipulate that
Student Legal Services, funded by
MSA, can not sue the University. If
the administratorsare looking out
for student interests, they should
not prohibit legal suits through
SLS.
To protect students, the Univer-
sity should rewrite the housing
lease for dormitories. Right now
Housing can remove a student for
violation of a vague clause of the
housing lease. "Each of you must
exercise the greatest regard for
your fellows and avoid creating
any condition which jeopardizes
life, limb or property." This past
year, one housing official served an
eviction notice to a student for a
verbal threat interpreted by the
administrator as life-threatening.
An examination of the causes of
violence on campus is also in order.
The shanty built on the Diag to
raise awareness about black living
conditions in South Africa has suf-
fered two attacks including arson
and demolition. Rape is another
constant problem, but the Univer-
sity has stalled on improving
lighting and expanding night time
transportationservices. The
University should focus more at-
tention on creating a required
course designed to examine and
work toward overcoming the
causes of sexually and racially
motivated violence.
Finally, therUniversity should
adopt a formal mediation
procedure to protect its image
when it is unnecessary to go public
with an alleged crime. Under the
procedure, administrators would
notify their suspect of the oppor-

tunity to meet with University of-
ficials. The officials would tell the
student of his right to have a
lawyer present at the meeting. The
meeting would be strictly confiden-
tial. In this way, the accused and
accusor could strike a deal outside
of court and both the University
and the student would protect their
image.
FIGHT BACK
Students must step up their work
to rally public opinion against the
code. Nearly unanimous student
opinion has staved off the code so
far.
The wording of the November
draft of the University's idea for a
code reveals the necessity of good
public image for the University:
"A Hearing Board shall be com-
prised...randomly selected by the
Hearing Officer or the Judicial
System Administrator from panels
of not fewer than twenty students.
Individuals shall be appointed to
the panels by the President." In ac-
tuality, this random sounding
procedure amounts to the Univer-
sity's power to select from among a
pool of potential "jurists."
Students need outside allies to
support them in this power
struggle. MSA should devote
greater efforts toward pressuring
state legislators who appropriate
funds to the University. State
legislators should work toward get-
ting student regents and absolute
self-determination for students in
non-academic issues at the Univer-
sity.
MSA should send out a mass

mailing to alumni who have shown
interest in student government in
the past. These alumni would be in-
formed about student issues and
could pressure the University on
the code and other perennial issues
at MSA such as women's safety,
minority recruitment and reten-
tion, and military research. There
is undoubtedly a large proportion
of alumni who would be as upset
with the University on these issues
as the students.
Faculty members concerned
about an atmosphere conducive to
freedom of inquiry and the direc-
tion of the University should also be
a natural base of opposition to the
code. The faculty has no interest in
teaching droid-like students who
are too intimidated to question the
policies of those in authority. The
faculty does not want to lose ex-
cellent, inquisitive, prospective
students because of .a repressive
reputation in regard to everything
from alcohol to housing to political
dissent.
At the University, it is only a
minority of powerful ad-
ministrators that has an interest in
self-aggrandizement by imposing a
code of non-academic conduct.
Outside the University, the ad-
ministration can only hope to gar-
ner support for an administrative
code from those anti-democratic
forces who would like to see docile
students under strict control. It is
time for students to protect their
freedom of thought and expression
by developing alliances to secure
greater student self-determination.

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCVI, No. 137

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board
All other cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Daily.

LETTERS:

Controversy in a Middle East class: Is it

4

newsworthy?

To the Daily:
We would like to protest the
lfichigan Daily's handling of an
internal problem in Dr. Raymond
Tanter's Political Science 353
course, the Arab-Israeli Conflict.
A group of students concerned
with the handling of the class
wrote a letter to Dr. Tanter and
Dr. John Kingdon, chairman of
the Political Science Depar-
tment, outlining their grievances.
As you well know, many students
signed it. It was meant solely as
constructive criticism of Dr. Tan-
ter's handling of the lectures in
the hope that similar problems
gould be avoided in the future. As
such, it was hoped that this mat-
t'er could be handled quietly and
fairly between the students in-
volved, Dr. Tanter, and Dr..

Kingdon.
On March 31, the Daily printed
an article concerning the
previously mentioned letter. We
in no way expected the Daily to
show such journalistic irrespon-
sibility in exploiting such a
delicate and potentially explosive
situation by printing a front page
article, theiteby throwing a
private matter into the public
forum. We believe that the
decision to print the article was in
exceedingly poor judgement, as
it publicly humiliated a dedicated
staff member, polarized the
class, and did nothing to solve the
problem. Whether or not we sup-
port the petition sent to Drs. Tan-
ter and Kingdon has no bearing
upon our disgust with the Daily's
article. Now, any hopes for

change in the class have been
greatly diminished due to your
blowing this matter way out of
proportion. "Ninety-six years of
editorial freedom" should have
taught you that sometimes it is
wiser to let well enough alone.
-66 concerned students
Political Science 353
April 1
Editor's response:
Newspapers have a respon-

sibility to print accounts of
significant events or develop-
ments in a timely and factual
manner. There are times when
printing a story amounts to an
invasion of privacy, but the ar-
ticles about Professor Tanter's
class addressed an issue that
the public - especially stud-
ents and faculty - should be
aware of. When nearly half

the students in a class
vehemently complain about
their professor, that con-
stitutes a news story.
Apparently, the articles that
were printed exacerbated the
tension in the class, and that is
unfortunate. It does not mean,
however, that the stories
should not have been run. In

this instance, it seems that the
Daily is being used as a
scapegoat because it
publicized a rather em-
barassing situation. The sin-
cerity of the complaint is
questionable, considering that
one of the students who objec-
ted to the articles was the per-
son who gave the original let-
ter to the Daily.

_ _-

Abwm-;Maw

Esquivel's talk one-sided

To the Daily:
The article on Adolfo Perez
Esquivel's March 10 speech in
Hale Auditorium (Daily, 3/11/86)
quotes the Nobel Prize laureate
as saying that because the per-
spective of U.S. newspapers on
Central America is not correct,
the media makes it "difficult to
comprehend situations in Central
America." The Daily's report of
the speech adds to this lack of
comprehension by presenting, as
Esquivel himqelf tried to , a one-
sided view of the current
situation in Latin America.
Although the article mentions

by the :Sandinista regime, he
failed to give an adequate reply.
As for Cuba, he said that he had
visited Cuba for the first time
only recently and had concluded,
after visiting some schools, that
the level of education appeared
high. This is not surprising given
the fact that Cuba had one of the
highest levels of education in
Latin America before the
revolution.
On the issue of the Sandinista
regime, Esquivel again failed to
give an adequate answer. He did
admit that the Sandinista gover-

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