Monday, September 29, 1986
The Michigan Daily
Edien m ytut ant
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCVII, No. 18
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.
THE BOARD OF Regents must
respect the 16,800 student sig-
natures which demonstrate
majority support for the Public
Interest Research Group in
Michigan (PIRGIM).. According
to the Regent's bylaws, a student
organization that wants to
collect special fees must show
that it has the support for its
funding and purpose by the
majority of students through
written petition. Also, the
organization must have clear
PIRGIM was founded in
1972 by a group of students at the
University who wanted a non-
partisan mechanism for
addressing problems which
concerned them as citizens and
as students. The organization
that resulted, PIRGIM,was and
continues to be non-profit,
student run and campus
oriented. It provides a means for
students to go out into the
community and lobby for
change. PIRGIM grew out of a
need by many students to have a
non-confrontational voice in
policy making decisions "within
the system." The group has
been active in environmental
protection, women's safety, and
voter registration. It publishes
consumer . guides to
banks,resume services, and food
and spirits. Through PIRGIM
students have the opportunity to
combine educational and
organizational techniques to
promote alternative solutions to
In order to benefit from
PIRGIM's services and keep it
solvent, students must
Recognizing that 54 percent of
PIRGs with a positive check off'
(students check 'yes' if they
want to donate ) disintegrate,
whereas. only 18 percent of
PIRGs with negative check off
(students check 'no' if they don't.
want to donate ) systems fail, the
PIRGIM petition specifically
requested students to sign for an
optional refusable fee (negative
check off) on the Student
Verification Form (SVF). The
optional refusable fee allows
students to refuse payment if
they so choose, otherwise, the
$2.00 goes directly to PIRGIM.
The debate over the optional
refusable fee centers around a
feeling among many students
that PIRGIM is deceiving them
by not employing a positive
check off. They argue that
PIRGIM should reach out to the
students more so that when
people are registering at CRISP,
they understand what PIRGIM
is, and can make a wise
decision about how to spend
While it is true that PIRGIM
should reach out to the campus
community, publicize their
projects and offer greater
access to student interests,
PIRGIM has demonstrated that
the majority of students on this
campus favor PIRGIM, and
want an optional refusable fee
system. Any non-partisan
campus group that
demonstrates this kind of mass
support is entitled to the same
privileged spot on the SVF.
One could argue that it is a
shame that PIRGIM had to use
campaigning instead of
researching or lobbying in the
state. At the same time, student
support is imperative to the
success of PIRGIM.
The Board of Regents argues
that students don't reallly want
a refusable fee. They claim that
PIRGIM's petition wasn't clear
enough and that many students
probably didn't read the petition
carefully before signing it. This
condescending attitude is in-
appropriate and it undermines
the democratic process of
petitioning. Students are
responsible adults who can
make intelligent decisions
without' the guidance of the
Regents. Students have shown
that they want to assess
themselves an optional
refusable fee in order to support
a valuable student organization.
The Regents have no alternative
but to respect that choice.
The number one source of pollution
in this country is being overlooked.
While toxic chemicals and nuclear
dumping affect only an unfortunate
few, this source of pollution touches
millions of us everyday.
\ oi 2
I speak, of course, of the gum
problem. Tons of used bubble gum are
stuck on walls, pasted undersdesks, left
in library books, and fastened to
unappreciative object s everyday.
A recent survey of the undergraduate
library found that each sitting space
had nine pieces of gum stuck to its
underside. Estimating about 250
sitting spaces per floor with four floors,
that's almost 10,000 pieces of used
bubble gum in the UGLi alone.
Other buildings across the country
are similarly afflicted. But there is a
way out of this sticky situatior.
When pollution on the roads became
too great, the government put a ten cent
deposit on all pop and beer bottles. The
idea is the same here. To discourage
people from stuffing gum under their
desks, the government should put a ten
cent deposit on each piece. The deposit
would be refundable, as people could
just go to the store and return their used
The plan would virtually eliminate
gum under desks. It would do for our
offices and schools what the bottle
return law did for the highways.
And there are other advantages.
Just as the bottle law created a need
for bottle handlers, this law will create
a need for gum handlers. When people
return their gum to the store, they can't
just stick it on the counter. The gum
will have to be collected, counted,
washed, and processed by humans.
Thousands of new jobs will be created
in the mastication engineering
The gum can then be recycled. It will
no longer be wasted on doorknobs
where it can't be used. It can be put
back in to use. The precious resources
of monosodium glutimate and
hydrogenated starch can be preserved.
We will be able to save our sugar for
other useful products-like Count
Chocula, Inez, or fudgesicles.
Gum under desks causes a
tremendous waste of other resources.
Think of all the broken pencil tips that
result from bored students exploring
under their desks. Think of all the
soap we waste trying to wash our
hands after we fondle other people's
gum. Think of all the laundry
detergent we go through after we bouncE
our knees too rambunctiously under a
freshly gummed desk.
A gum return law will also have
benefits that transcend the economic. A
gum return law will have a deep impact
on our ideological substructure. It will
encourage an ethic of savings and
"waste not, want not."
It will bring back a spirit of
entrepreneurship to our children.
Many kids collect cans; now they can
expand their scope. They're just the
right size to get under desks and
scrape gum off. Children will be able to
work for themselves and achieve a
sense of accomplishment from running
a successful business. This plan may,
even eliminate the need for allowances
and will encourage children to become
independent of their parents.
College students will benefit from
gum return laws. They are always
short of change, but this plan will
allow them to carry cash in hand, er,
mouth. If they need to make a phone
call but don't have twenty cents, they
can just spit out their wad.
Of course, there will be many critics
of this plan. They would suggest that a
gum return law is extreme. Public
awareness campaigns to deter this gum
disease are a better idea; leave it up to
the individual's conscience, they'll;
Hogwash. When it comes to leaving
gum under desks, our society is
unequivocally decadent and immoral,
I have seen too many people, when
confronted with the evidence of their
crime, say "I was just saving it there
for later." There is no shame in these
people. We need to motivate them
where it countsin the pocketbook.
We will be fought tooth and nail by
special interests. The Juicyfruit lobby
and the Bubblicious lobby may be too
much to overcome. Also, we'll be under
attack by the NRA people, who think
we mean "gun control" instead of "gum
control.". Even when we clarify our
position, they may say "gum" is too
close to "gun" to take any chances.
Then we'll be up against bumper
stickers that say "If we outlaw gum,
then only outlaws will have gum." It
will be a hard fight.
We'll have to sort out our real friends
in Congress from those who are just
paying the idea lip service.
Undoubtedly some Congressmen will
just consider the idea intellectual
mastication. But' they don't realize
there is, a real grass roots chewing
constituency out there. The public will
demand they put their money where
their mouth is.
The law may be a hard one to push
through. But with the benefits as
numerous as they are, it will be worth
it. It's time we clean up this gum
pollution and enact a law with some
teeth in it.
-To BE ELECTED, \WS
i~V To 8 MORE LIVE
Boi-SEER Tf1E PENTAGONq, CW?
SPENDING&, RELY OwNriI1 ?PRIVATE
IF w'- UST IAAiTAS
W4Y SH4OULD VOTER S
\P CREe THE PITY C* NEW fIDEAS
Nicaraguan sister city
R ESPONDING TO A voter
initiative passed last April, Ann
Arbor has established a sister
city relationship with Juigalpa,
Nicaragua. This relationship
allows the city to oppose
symbolically the Reagan.
policy against Nicaragua as
well as provide needed aid to a
The sister city concept is not
new in Ann Arbor. The city
already has sister cities in
Japan and West Germany.
These relationships primarily
involve cultural exchange and
s. gre ali ;e n that context.
orphans is needed. Nicaragua's
need to defend itself from Contra
aggression hinders its ability to
deal with the poverty which is
endemic to Central America.
The irony of United States
policy in Nicaragua is that
President Reagan justifies aid to
the Contras because of human
rights abuses by the Sandinista
government. According to
Amnesty International the
abuses of the Contras far exceed
those of the Sandinista.
Furthermore, the recent closing
of the opposition newspaper La
Prensa is no more oppressive
than actions the United States
To the Daily:
This letter is written in
response to the letters "Shanty
disgraces the Diag" and
"Sick and tired of the Shanty"
(Daily, 9/26/86) concerning
the removal of the shanty in
the Diag. As we live our
relatively protected and
sheltered lives in the comfort
of this elitist college
environment, it is very easy
to ignore reality and find
ourselves "angered" and
1-ar..:, f .:i- in_ c n
be a comfort
and money... the shanty is
Those making such claims
had better examine closely
the roots behind their
discomfort and their anger.
While some feel burdened by
its presence as they are forced
to look at one symbol of
apartheid, an entire nation of
people is forced to live in such
shanties, struggling daily for
There is something
DE 1'AV ESI RN EXASP CPIEXPR SC0 11 t11:ttal.EASi R OR'MWESI EPlI6lK 1N1
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