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September 10, 1986 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-09-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Page 4 Wednesday, September 10, 1986 The Michigan Daily

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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Conduct code is unnecessary

Vol. XCVII,. No. 5

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.

Citizen options

The Michigan Supreme
Court's decision to uphold the
180 day limit on petition
signatures effectively eliminates
the ballot proposal as a viable
method to change state law.
The 180 day limit was
originally passed into law in
1972. Shortly afterwards,
Attorney General Frank Kelly
declared the law uncons-
titutional on the grounds that
the state constitution specifically
allows Michiganders the right
to amend the constitution
through use of the petition; a
right which the legislature's
time limit would deny. Kelly
correctly noted that it would be
impossible to collect the required
304,001 signatures in 180 days.
Since Kelly's decision several
issues have reached the ballot
and have been passed into law
even though a majority of their
qualifying signatures were
collected more than 180 days
prior to the filing date.
This year, however, a
proposal to limit the extent to
which public utilities can
increase the electric rates,
sponsored by the Michigan
Citizens Lobby, received 378,981
signatures over about a two and
a half year period. The proposal
would have prevented Detroit
Edison from passing the costs of
about 4 billion dollars in cost
overruns at its troubled Fermi
II nuclear power to its
customers; many of whom
cannot afford cumalative rate
increases which may end up
being as high as 40 percent.
The ruling which the
Supreme Court upheld was
originally made by then
Ingham County Circuit Judge
Robert Bell, who has since been
appointed by President Reagan
to serve as a District judge. The
ruling came at the instigation
of the utility companies, Detroit
Edison and Consumers Power,

and had the unintended result
of also removing the death
penalty from the ballot. Though
Michigan will be better off if it
continues its 150 year tradition
as the first western government
to eliminate the death penalty ,
it would be preferable to have
this position reaffirmed by the
voters rather than the courts.
The ruling flys in the face of
past interpretations of state law
which have held that where the
current 1960 state constitution
was not specific on a point of law
one could rely on the 1908
constitution which allowed
signatures to be collected in the
period between gubernatorial
elections. Whereas the appeals
court argued that its ruling
helped maintain the purity of
petitions, it actually purified the
ballot of any direct citizen input.
The fact that Brighton
Millionaire Richard Chrysler
was unable to collect the
required number of signatures
when he was paying people to
collect them for a part-time
legislature proposal indicates
that any grassroots effort
working under a six month
time limit would be hopeless.
Ballot proposals have long
been recognized as a valuable
tool for citizen action; local
groups have sponsored Ann
Arbor ballot proposals for a
"Central American Peace
Initiative" and to force landlords
to insulate their buildings.
Without the option of the
petition, citizen groups cannot
combat entrenched interests
such as utility companies. State
Representative Perry Bullard
(D-Ann Arbor) has indicated
that he may sponsor legislation
to extend the petition deadline.
An extension of the time limit to
perhaps 18 months or two years
deserves the legislature's
support.

By Jen Faigel, Eric
Schnaufer, and Ken Weine
For the past four years, the
University administration has wanted
a student code of nonacademic conduct.
A code of nonacademic conduct is a set
of prohibitions, punishments and
procedures governing student's non-
academic lives. Students have
vigorously opposed the code because it
would violate students' basic civil
liberties, interfere in students' private
lives and increase administrative
control over student life. Due to this
oppostion and Regents' bylaw 7.02, the
administration has not been able to
impose a code.
Bylaw 7.02 requires that any code
must be approved by the Regents, the
facultty's Senate Assembly and the
Michigan Student Assembly. MSA's
power to veto a code is its only formal
power over University affairs and a
check on the administration's power
over student life. President Shapiro
has repeatedly threatened to subvert
7.02's democratic process and
implement a code without the approval
of the faculty or students.
Bylaw 7.02 also establishes the
University Council, a committee of
administrators, faculty members and
students, which is responsible for ,
among other things, drafting and
proposing codes. President Shapiro
twice ignored the Council's perogative
in 1984 by proposing his own codes.
After the University community
severely criticized those codes,
President Shapiro reconvened the
Council he had hoped to eliminate.
When the Council met, students
argued that the need for a code had to be
justified before.a code was written. If
there were no justifiable reasons for a
code, then the Council should not write
one. Instead, they argued, the Council
should investigate alternatives to a
code such as mediation and aggressive
Faigel, Schnaufer. and Weine
are members of the summer
1986 University Council

use of the existing criminal justice
system. Unfortunately, the Council
proceeded to write a code without first
determining that there was a problem a
code could solve. Last April, the
Council released for public discussion
a section of a code that purportedly dealt
exclusively with violent behavior -- "
The Emergency Procedures ."
Importantly, the student members of the
Council did not endorse the Emergency
Procedures.
After the release of the Emergency
Procedures, the faculty and
administrators on the Council asked "
What next? " For them, the Emergency
Procedures were merely one part of a
code that would deal with a wide range
of behavior, not just violent behavior.
In contrast, student members on the
Council asked " Why next ? " . The
Council had written the Emergency
Procedures even though no one had
demonstrated a need for them. The
Council had proceeded under the
assumption that a code was needed to
deal with violent behavior. This same
mistake should not be repeated.
The balance of the Council did not
react favorably to the students'
questioning of a need for nonacademic
regulations governing specific forms of
conduct. Everything would go
smoother if everyone accepted
President Shapiro's position that a code
was inevitable and needed. No one
should say the king had no clothes. To
do so would invite the king to disband
the Council. The Chair of the Council
recommended a recess until fall.
It's time for the Council to return to
its work. This work must be free of
administrative pressure. The Council
should not rush to issue a
comprehensive code because the
administration is impatient. Rather,
the Council should do what is best from
the perspective of the entire University
community, paying special attention to
the fact that nonacademic codes almost
exclusively govern students. The
University has functioned quite
admirably witout an operative code for
over a decade. The administration
should acknowledge that and await the

outcome of the Council's democratic
process.
This fall, the Council should explore
and perhaps propose procedures for
dealing with intra-University conflicts
that are a true alternative to a code. A
true alternative to the code should,
include a use of existing mechanisms
such as the criminal and civil justice
systems. An unsolved arson- is not
cause for a code, but diligent police
investigation. In conjunction with the
criminal and civil systems,
University community members could
participate in dispute resolution
through mediation. University-
sponsored mediation could " formalize
" informal processes which currently
go unnoticed.
For example, a dormitory resident is
accused by his or her Resident Advisor
of vandalizing University property.
The University can presently try to
evict the student under the terms of a
University lease and/ or ask that the
student be charged with the malicious
destruction of property. In mediation,
the University could offer that, if the
student compensated the University for
the damage he or she might have
caused, the University would not press
criminal charges or seek to evict the
student. If the student found that offer
unacceptable, he or she could challenge
eviction proceedings and have his or
her " day in court ". In this way,, the
bargaining positions of the disputants
are not illegitimately biased toward the
University. The University would also
not be able to threaten a student with
suspension or expulsion in addition to
or instead of eviction or criminal
prosecution.
Since there is no need for a code,
there is no need to write one. However,
this does not preclude a serious and
fundamental examination of issues.
In fact, the University Council process
is a democratic means of examining
the University's relationship to the
community. No one has yet given
justifiable response to the question."
Why Code ?" . " What next then ?
The Council should try to answer rather
than beg this question.

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LETTERS:
Greek experience can be positive

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To the Daily:
As a sorority, member I feel
compelled to respond to the
"Why rush?" editorial of
September 8. My Greek
experience has been almost
completely positive. I have

diversity among others to
satisfy most who desire to'
become Greek. People
everywhere choose friends that
they are comfortable with, that
they can share good times with.
This is by no means unique to

group of friends and choose to about religions other than my
broaden this group, rather than own (Jewish) through the
to limit it. women in -my house. My
As for rewarding understanding of others has
"stereotytpical sex role increased, notbroken down.
behavior which breaks Though the Greek system is
communication and under- not for everyone, it can provide

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