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October 16, 1987 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-16

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4

OPINION

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Page 4

Friday, October 16, 1987

The Michigan Daily

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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Be

true

to

free speech

4

Vol. XCVIII, No. 27

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 five-year plan

THE UNIVERSITY RARELY MAKES
major changes in its academic
'requirements. To make such
changes abruptly in the middle of
the summer, without any prior
consultation among those affected,
is virtually unprecedented.
Yet this is exactly what LSA Dean
Peter Steiner did when he decided
to enforce a policy whereby
graduate students would have only
,five years of financial support in
whichtoscomplete their disser-
:tations.
This change is bad policy in the
sense that it will reduce the diversity
of the graduate student body,
impinge on departmental autonomy,
and restrict academic freedom.
It is also an outrageous way to
run a University, when one
individual can unilaterally impose a
policy that affects thousands of
graduate students without con-
sulting with representatives of the
e graduate student body or even the
faculty who determine departmental
requirements. Steiner's asser-
tions, after the fact, that his
changes were done for the benefit
of the graduate student body,
simply add further insult.
Steiner's policy cannot help but to
restrict the diversity of the graduate
student body, since minorities,
women, and poorer students, many
of whom have parents, siblings,
and/or children to take care of, will
be the ones who have the most
difficulty meeting the five year
limit.
In Steiner's day, the typical
graduate student was an upper
middle class white male with a wife
to take care of household tasks.
This is no longer true, or at least it
should not be true.
The five year time limit is also a
serious assault on departmental
autonomy. In some fields, such as
history, sociology, and anthro-
pology, the average student takes
hover nine years to complete his or
her Ph.D. This is undoubtedly due
Ito the nature of the discipline and
not the quality of the students, since
these are very highly ranked
departments nationally.
These fields require a student to
master a wide body of literature,
undertake a significant amount of
primary research, and write up their
findings in a book length dis-
sertation (keep in mind also that the
typical graduate student is also
employed 20-25 hours per week).
Dean Steiner is not better able

than the departmental faculty to
determine the appropriate content
and duration of a graduate education
in these fields.
Steiner's five-year rule also
detracts from academic freedom and
creativity. First of all, it will always
be easier to write a dissertation that
stays within the mainstream of a
field than one that steps outside it
and seeks to break new ground. It
can be argued that students can do
such work after they have received
their degrees and are further along
in their academic careers. However,
such an argument flies in the face of
the evidence.
If students are pressed into
accepting conventional wisdom as
dogma in their graduate careers,
they will be further pressed in their
quest for tenure as assistant
professors. Few academics having
invested 10 to 15 years of their life
working within the mainstream of
their fields are going to turn around
and criticize everything the:r've
done. Steiner's plan can thus be
seen as a recipe for academic dogma
and conformity, not good
scholarship.
Secondly, the fields most affected
by the rule will be those that are less
able to raise outside funding: for
example, the field of ecology in the
department of biology. The result
is that private corporations and the
Pentagon will find themselves with
a net increase in their power to
influence the research and academic
priorities of the University.
The rule will also lower the
quality of education for
undergraduate students, because
their TA's will fall under
tremendous pressure to devote less
time to their teaching. And Steiner's
plan actually provides that students
enrolled beyond the ten term limit
not be hired to teach, even if they
are the best available candidates for
the job.
Steiner claims he imposed the
plan out of concern for the graduate
students. Representatives of the
graduate students, however, the
Graduate Employees Organization
and the Rackham Student
Government vigorously oppose the
changes.
It is time for Dean Steiner to stop
asserting power without input from
necessary organizations. He should
rescind his five year plan, and in the
future consult with affected students
and faculty before making major
policy decisions.

By Carl Cohen
Freedom of speech and intellectual
inquiry, as the intense and lengthy
editorial in the Daily ("Freedom of speech
usually," 10/13/87) rightly argues, is not
to be conditioned by subject matter. Even
when what one has to say is exceedingly
unpopular, and thought by many to be
vicious and dangerous, one has, in a good
society (and certainly in a university), the
right to think it, and explore it, and say it.
Good for you.
May I add three brief comments? First,
please bear in mind that this freedom
applies not only to students, but t o
faculty, and not only to political argument
and inquiry, but to argument and inquiry
of every kind, pertaining to every subject
matter whatever. When, as may happen in
the future as it has in the past, efforts are
made to forbid university inquiry into to
certain very unpopular subjects, I trust,
and earnestly hope, that the Daily will
defend freedom with equal fervor then.
Sometimes, of course, that freedom will
be used to promote political causes you
strongly oppose. But you will be prepared,
I am confident, to defend the inellectual
freedom of all, in all circumstances. That
is what you have urged, and maintaining
that view when it is distinctly unpopular
will be the mark of your integrity.
Second. There will be disagreement
about speakers chosen for different
University settings, of course. But, once
invited here, you will agree, that
disagreement does not in any way reduce
Carl Cohen is a professor of philosophy
in the Residential College and in the
Medical School.

their freedom to speak, and the freedom of
others to hear them. Are you not troubled,
therefore, by your own suggestion that, to
reduce violence in response to speech, we
must have the speakers chosen by
students? Do you hold that freedom of
speech is advanced by insuring that the
message of the speaker is palatable to the
audience? Or is it your view, being
concerned for freedom, that violence in
response to speech is always out of order,
regardless of the speaker, the host, or the
subject? Do you not agree that the freedom
to speak extends also to those thought by

When others seek to infringe
on the editorial freedom of the
Daily, and the University takes
action against them, would
you hold that defense of you
inappropriate because your
work is not done in the
classroom.
the potential audience to be nasty and
unattractive?
That, I take it, is what defenders of free
speech believe, and is the central thrust of
your editorial. Surely, then, you will
defend free speech for all -including those
speakers presenting views some students
think ugly or unacceptable - with equal
vigor, will you not?
Whatever our judgments regarding the
choice of speakers, are we not. all

committed to the principle, that once duly
invited, however wrong-headed he may be,
deserves to say his piece. And that those
who wish, for whatever reason, to listen
to him deserve a chance to hear? I believe
that is your deepest view, and I look
forward to your defense of those political
pariahs when next they arrive on our
campus.
Finally, you will agree, I am confident,
that events and activities of highest value
in the academic community -- much
thought and study, much learning, and
much that is intellectually precious -- go
on outside of formal classrooms. In the
offices of the Michigan Daily, on the
Diag, in the library - in all political and
intellectual pursuits with in University
precincts yet not in classes, the right of
very unpopular persons to express their
views, even when some studentsbelieve
those views murderous and detestable,
must be defended by a good university.
You will join in that defense, I am
confident, and you will agree that nothing
is more fitting in a good academy than
genuinely free speech, and nothing more
truly academic in nature.
"Ninety-eight years of editorial freedom"
is the motto on the masthead of the
Michigan Daily. Your pride in that
tradition is widely shared. When others
seek to infringe on the editorial freedom of
the Daily, and the University takes action
against them, would you hold that defense
of you inappropriate because your work is
not done in classrooms? Or do you think,
as most of us do, that freedom in the
academy must be honored and defended in
newspaper offices, in laboratories, in
student organizations - and wherever
intense controversy is likely to develop?

Wasserman

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4

LETTERS

4

Terrorists fight with what they have

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To the Daily:
In response to Mr. McCul-
lough's letter, ("Terror vs.
freedom-fighting," Daily,
10/13/87 ), he clearly missed
the fundamental point that Ms.
McCaughey made in her letter,
"Terrorism is a political label,"
(Daily, 10/12/87). While, Mr.
McCullough's distinction be-
tween a "terrorist" and a
"freedom fighter" is superficial
at best, Ms. McCaughey goes
deeper into the issue, urging us
to examine the political con-
text in which any type o f
fighting takes place.
McCullough seems to be
under the misguided impression
that terrorism takes place in a
political vacuum. The im-
position of core nations' rule
on any periphery nation will
cause revolutionary move-
ments, terrorism being one of
the most obvious and powerful
forms. The paradox of the
United States' business and
political global domination is
that while it operates under the
guise of democratic virtues, it
ultimately serves as the
greatest catalyst of terroristic
warfare.
McCullough differentiated
between "military objectives of
freedom fighters" and "terror-
istic pressure placed on a
government." Aren't both of
these measures for the purpose
of imposing change in some
system to suit the desires of
the striking nation?
If Mr. McCullough wants
to argue that the methods of
"terrorists" and "freedom fight-
ers" are totally different, he
better look more closely at the
facts. Then he would see that

percent of the population
voted. Of this 80 percent, 67
percent voted for the Sandin-
istas. While this is what the
nation democratically decided,
for and by itself, Reagan and
the Contras still claim that
democracy is at stake in Cen-
tral America.
McCullough describes ter-
rorist activity as "taking the
easy way out and blasting
helpless civilians." By this
definition, the Contras, nuclear
bombs, the Vietnam war, etc.,
etc., were and are forms of ter-
rorism. Yet, he blindly as-
sumes the humanitarianism of
our government, while the
United States has made over
100 nuclear threats to 3rd
World Nations. In the occur-
rence of a nuclear war, helpless
civilians are doomed, but the
President of our nation has an
escape route planned out for
him. Who's the "coward"
here? Those whom McCul-
lough defines as "terrorists,"
employ particular methods of
fighting which correspond to
the particular scope of re-
sources and world power their
nation has available to it. The
elite of powerful nations em-
ploys sophisticated militias to
destroy nations while they stay
safe from any risks of fighting
for themselves. Again, who's
the "coward" here?
But, Mr. McCullough,
couldn't we rise above all of
these tangential arguments?
Poor nations' terrorist organi-
zations and wealthy countries'
military structures have differ-
ent available resources and
therefore different forms of
fighting, but who's to say that

this violence is what this world
must eradicate, and to uncover
this, a broad-based, and critical
understanding of global dy-

Prior notice needed for tickets

To the Daily:
We would like to vent our
frustration with the Michigan
Athletic Ticket Office's
"customer unfriendly" policy
toward the selling Men's
Basketball season tickets. The
following telephone
conversation took place on
Monday, October 12:
"Hello, Athletic Ticket
Office. May I help you?"
"Yes, I'm calling for infor-
mation on renewing the
basketball season tickets I
purchased last year."
"Umm... Those tickets have
been on sale for two or three
weeks now. You've lost your
priority if you have not bought
them already."
"You've got to be kidding! I
thought I would call because I
haven't been notified yet about
ticket sales."
"That's right, we don't do
that. There was an ad in the
Daily and there were signs
posted on campus a couple of
weeks ago."
"Aren't football season
ticket-holders notified by mail
as to whether or not they want
tickets again for the upcoming
season."

"Yes, sir, they are."
"And aren't there quite a few
more football season ticket-
holders than basketball season
ticket-holders?"
"Yes, sir, there are."
"But the basketball ticket-
holders are not notified as the
season approached, right?"
"No sir. I'm sorry."
Well, Michigan Athletic
Ticket Office, we sincerely
accept you apology. It was
probably our fault that we did
not stop to read every notice on
every kiosk that we have
passed in the last three weeks.
It was probably our fault that
we didn't not scour every inch
of every Daily printed in the
last three weeks. It was
definitely our fault for
assuming that would exhibit a
little responsibility and
courtesy to your paying
customers.
You now have two less
customers to not worry about.
What a load off your backs that
must be...

namics must be utilized.
-Robin
Goldstein
October 14

Patrick
William

B. Umphrey
A. Baguley
October 13

"*. . . . . . . . . . ...+:. . . . .. i . . . . . . . .

The Daily welcomes letters from its

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