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January 13, 1987 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-01-13

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OPINION
Tuesday, January 13, 1987

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

U

'hucksters' mislead students

By Eric Schnaufer
Buyer beware. University hucksters
are currently hyping soon-to-be obsolete
Apple Macintosh microcomputers. This
month, the University hopes to sell a
"truck load" of Macintoshes to students
and deliver them during a "Computer
Weekend". In order to sell so many
Macs, the University is engaging in
questionable marketing and promotion
techniques. The Computer Weekend sale
should also be understood in light of
overall University computer policy.
The University is pushing students to
buy their own Macintoshes because it
will not provide enough Apple
computers to meet the growing demand.
In the University's slick promotional
materials for the Computer Weekend sale,
the University explicitly acknowledges
that the demand for Macs grossly exceeds
the supply "during the end of each term".
Anyone who uses Macs regularly knows
that queues for Macs are routinely hours
long throughout the term. Since there are
currently less than 250 public
Macintoshes in the University and since
the University does not plan to meet
student demand for Apples in the near
future, students are encouraged to buy
their own.
This is so even though all students
Eric Schnaufer is a University
law student

pay at least $100 per term "computer
fee," which was purported to be for the
expansion of public microcomputer sites.
Predictably, the University is changing
its rationalization for the fee. It now says
that, if "you are a student, personal
ownership of a computer will give you
the utmost leverage from the fee." Where
before the University told students $100
per term would give them access to
computers, the University now says that
if students want to have access to the
computing facilities they need their own
computers.
If you want to use a microcomputer
that is very good advice. Like anywhere
else in America, it is advantageous to
have money, lots of it, at the University.
Too bad for those students who do not
have $1,500 for a new Macintosh. While
the wealthy use their computers at home,
the less privileged can wait in line for
hours. Sometimes the most important
lessons about America are learned outside
the classroom.
In promoting the Computer Weekend,
the University is shamelessly emulating
discount appliance outlets and late night
television advertisers. The University is
not a neutral, disinterested vendor of
computers; it agressively promotes the
makes and models it sells.
For example, Interim University
President Duderstadt and University
advertisements falsely claim that the
Computer Weekend prices will only be
available "only" during the Computer

Weekend. Just last month, the
University was encouraging students to
take advantage of a "limited time offer"
special "bundled" price for Macs.
Needless to say, the new prices are lower.
Like other electronic products, prices of
computers fall as improved products are
introduced and competition increases.
There is nascent competition in Apple's
segment of the of the computer market.
More importantly, Apple has recently
announced a new, improved computers
code-named the "Alladin" and "Paris."
One suspects that Apple is unloading a
large inventory of Macs before they are
superceded by the Alladin and Paris. The
University itself may be delaying
purchasing Macintoshes in anticipation
of those new Apple computers.
The University also falsely claims that
the Macintosh's printer is "not available
separately." On the contrary, Computer
Weekend buyers can order the Imagewriter
II printer from the University apart from
the Computer Weekend sale. Besides,
the printer can be purchased cheaper mail-
order than through the Computer
Weekend sale.
Furthermore, during the Computer
Weekend sale, the University is trying to
limit access to information about
purchasing a Macintosh. According the
the University, there are "only" two ways
to receive information about the
Computer Weekend sale: University
seminars and University "packets". No
mention is made of the extensive

resources available at the Microcomputer
Education Center. In fact, MEC experts
are not supposed to counsel Computer
Weekend purchasers. In the seminar I
attended, the audience knew more than the
University salesperson. Significantly,
the information packets distributed by the
University intentionally overstate the
virtues of Macintoshes and understate its
disadvantages.
The University claims that the main
advantage of the Macintosh is its
economy. In reality, the Macintosh is
expensive, even at "truckload" prices.
There are many locally available IBM
compatible computers which are less
expensive than similarly configured
Macintoshes. (The University's IBMs
and IBM compatibles are overpriced; it is
cheaper to buy one outside the
University.)
Relatedly, because there is virtually no
competition in the production of
peripheral devices such as printers, choice
is often limited to what Apple produces at
the monopolistic prices Apple sets. It is
not that the University is offering a
special price on the Macintosh and its
peripherals, but that list prices are
inflated. In contrast, there is healthy
competition among IBM compatible
computer and peripherals manufacturers.
For example, the price an Apple hard
driveat the University ""truckload" price
is still twice that of a comparable IBM
compatible hard drive at normal retail
price.

Most students purchase a personal
computer to write papers. The
University would have students believe
that the Macintosh is a good
wordprocesser when the Mac's substandard
keyboard, which according to one analyst
"has the feel of an arthritic sponge," puny
screen and dreadfully slow speed seriously
limit its value as a wordprocesser.
(According to Info World, the new Apples
have improved keyboards, bigger screens
and a substantially faster than the Macs
the University is pushing.)
The University would also have
students believe that Macintoshes which
use icons instead of words to control the
computer's operating system are easier to
use and more intuitive. The University
seems to think that students are toc
stupid to read a manual or type a series of
characters. This is not only a cynical
appraisal of students' abilities, it also
ignores the fact that to make efficient use
of any computer or program, one has to
read something about it.
In short, do not rely on University
salespersons or promotional material for a
decision on whether to buy a Macintost
or other microcomputer. Students and
student organizations should also pressure
the University to provide enough
microcomputers to satisfy student
demands. Finally, equal educational
opportunity within the University may be
possible only if all students have equal
access to computers.

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCV11, No. 73 420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board
All other cartoons, signed articles, andiletters do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Daily.

Wasserman

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Abrams' policy

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ELLIOT ABRAMS, the Assistant
Secretary of State for Inter-
American Affairs, is a prime
architect and initiator of the Reagan
administration's Central American
policy. His recent comments to the
New York Times, in which he
states an intention to lobby
Congress for Contra aid, typify an
administration policy that is
hypocritical, unduly hardline, and
detrimental to peace efforts in the
area.
Abrams, who is in charge of
overseeing the distribution of CIA
funds to the contra rebels,
continues to advocate military
support of the Duarte regime in El
Salvador. The Duarte government
was put into power by an election
in which the rebel opposition was
not politically represented in
contrast to the broad participation
in Nicaraguan elections. Yet
Abrams has insisted on ousting a
government brought in in elections
sponsored by the United Nations
and validated by visiting U.S.
congressmen.
The Reagan administration and
Abrams have for many years led a
double-sided political campaign in
Central America. Human rights
violations in countries friendly to
the United States are consistently
ignored and refuted. El Salvador
and Guatamala are illustrations of
morally negligent nations
supported economically, militarily,
and politically by the United States.
Countries such as Nicaragua,
however, are vehemently harassed
because of ideology not-

withstanding a relatively
impressive human rights record.
Peace initiatives have continually
been bogged down and hampered
by the Reagan administration. Even
such plans as the Contadora peace
process, which claims the support
of moderate countries such as
Mexico and Costa Rica, are hurt by
U.S. reluctance to cooperate. In a
recent meeting in Miami with
Costan Rican officials, Abrams
said the United States would not
participate in peace negotiations
until contra rebels hold a stronger
military position. This line of
thinking only results in continued
abuse of American prestige and the
loss of innocent Nicaraguan lives.
Abrams demands democratization
of the Sandinista government as the
only acceptable end to Reagan
efforts in the area. The stated
purpose of U.S. pressure on
Nicaragua is to force internal
changes in the structure of Ortega's
government.
This is a far cry from the previous
administration stance that tied U.S.
involvement in Central America to
the insurance of security for
countries bordering Nicaragua.
This policy is also in direct
violation of international law that
prohibits states fromover-throwing
the governments of other sovereign
states.
With advisors and policy makers
such as Elliot Abrams formulating
foreign policy, it is no wonder that
American servicemen are in
Honduras and in ships off of the
Nicaraguan coast.

AND KS TALVIN@ ?EA(-, EVEN M~Y WORST' ENEMPYw
609ACV? OPENNES AND CON- AG TURNEDP A(,AINST ME
CGLIATfONW
Letters,
Academic judicl ary requires concern

To The Daily:
Today's feature story about
the academic judiciary
("College Plagiarists Risk
Suspension," Daily 11/18/86)
mentions the problem of the
inconsistency of penalties
imposed by the independent
actions of professors, and also
the claim by some people that
the penalties imposed by the
judiciary are inflexible and
unduly harsh. Perhaps there is
also another problem. At least
it is a problem that I have.
This involves the difficulty
of obtaining a conviction in
that judiciary - or perhaps it
is just an inconsistency in
conviction. Last year I
brought a case to the judiciary.
The evidence in that case
seemed to me to be over-
whelming. Nevertheless, the
panel brought in an acquittal
after a deliberation of about
five minutes.
I cannot imagine how
there could reasonably be any
stronger evidence in a case of
academic dishonesty. But
according to today's article,
there have actually been some
convictions. I have to suppose
that these students have been
convicted on evidence no
stronger than that which
resulted in an acquittal in the
case I brought. In fact, they

have almost surely been
convicted on weaker evidence.
I don't know whether that is an
injustice. I would not be
surprised, however, if some
students thought so.
Is it possible that I'm
mistaken about the evidence in
my case compared with others?
Yes, it's possible. But as I

understand it, these trials are
closed, secret affairs. We
cannot observe the trials in
which we are not principals, so
as to get an idea of the
standards of evidence which are
being used, or of whether these
standards are being applied with
any reasonable consistency.
So I am left with my own

impressions
Will I bring another case to
the academic judiciary? My
own experience certainly
doesn't encourage it. And the
failure of that judiciary system
will be more damaging to
students than to me.
-George I. Mavrodes
November 18

Fast raises student awareness of hunger

To The Daily:
The goal of the fast
sponsored by the WHE-AC in
mid-November was not only to
raise money for local and
international hunger projects
but to increase students
awareness and understanding of -
the problem of hunger.
Though this fast may have
achieved this goal with some,
many students completely
missed the point. The night of
the fast many students ordered
pizza or saw it as an
opportunity to get away from
the usual dorm food and go out
for dinner. This totally
bypasses the main purpose of
the fast, which is exactly that,
fasting.
Some may ask, what is the
purpose of punishing
ourselves, we're giving up pur

money, isn't that enough?
Fasting isn't punishing
yourself, it is giving yourself
the chance to really understand
the other side. In this
incredibly affluent society, it is
important that we, as educated
people, take time out to reflect
upon things other than
ourselves, our friends and
university like.
In a survey conducted after
the fast many students replied,
when asked what could be done
to improve this education
process, that there should be
more information, speakers and
presentations on hunger to
facilitate a better understanding
of the fast's purpose and the
problem of world hunger.
Many of these things were
going on the week of the fast
and actually, the whole month.

Publicity of these events could;
probably improve, but students
also need to be more aware of
happenings going on in their
own community..
Organizations such as WHEN
AC and others oan only
publicize these events, they
cannot drag students to them.
One of the goals for next
years fast should be better
publicity and a better
explaination to the students of
the purpose of the fast, but
also, the students of this
university need to set a goal of
better awareness of events and
world towards a greater
understanding of the issues and
problems of hunger.
-Johanna Soet
November 22

The Daily welcomes letters from its
readers. Bringing in letters on personal
computer disk is the fastest way to publish
a letter in the Daily. Readers who can not
bring their letters in on disk should include
their phone numbers for verification.Call
747-2814 or 763-0379 for details.

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