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February 17, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-02-17

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4

OPINION
Page 4 Wednesday, February 17, 1988 The Michigan Daily

4

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Steiner

remarks reexamined

Vol. XCVIII, No. 96

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.
,Boycott Sports Illustrated
MONDAY, THE ANNUAL Sports to gain recognition in the largest
Illustrated swim suit edition ap- sports magazine is to be an object
peared on newsstands in Ann Ar- rather than an athlete. It is institu-
bor. This publication exists under tionally sexist that a sports maga-
; e pretense of selling swim wear zine represents women as objects
for women. Not only is this objec- for the appraisal of men.
tively false, but the magazine is Sports Illustrated is for men. It
damaging to the status of women reflects and perpetuates male culture
everywhere. in the same ways that national
;i It is absurd to claim that a maga- sports coverage does. Sports per-
tne with a readership that is over- petuate the ideas of fraternal sepa-
(helmingly male is used to sell ratism which lead to the "keeping
svim wear to women. Men gener- women in their place" mentality.
ally don't buy women's swim suits, Providing substantial representation
4nd men do not "read" the swim of women only once a year in this
suit issue for that reason. manner, Sports Illustrated exempli-
Sexist objectification of women fies our patriarchal society's sexist
sells magazines; this issue outsells ideas of the roles of women.
Ill others of the year. It is the mod- It is not necessary to censor sexist
els who are being displayed, not the material directly. If the profitability
swim suits they wear. This is being is removed from printed material,
done for large profits and the en- publishers will have no motive to
grandisment of the male egos be- publish either sexist magazines or
hind the magazines publication. advertisements. The Sports Illus-
Defenders of the issue ludi- trated swim suit edition makes
crously claim that swimming is a money. If it did not, it would not
sport and the subject of this issue. exist.
Not only is there no coverage of By purchasing Sports Illustrated
Women's swimming, but the people support and perpetuate in-
coverage of women's sports is un- stitutional sexism. Institutional
deniably low in all sports media, sexism prevents equal treatment of
including Sports Illustrated. women and perpetuates discrimina-
Sexual objectification discredits tion on the basis of gender. Boycott
women athletes. The primary way Sports Illustrated.

By Barbara Ransby
Three weeks ago, UCAR held a number
of protests in response to a series of
comments by Dean Peter . Steiner of
LSA. We deemed those comments racist
and insisted upon an apology, retraction
(disavowal) and a disclaimer by the Uni-
versity President. When this was not
forthcoming we called for Steiner to be
relieved of his duties as Dean, which
would simply mean he would resume his
faculty duties in the Department of Eco-
nomics. Over the past few weeks, ques-
tions have arisenregarding the nature and
context of Steiner's comments and the
definition of racism itself. We felt it im-
portant to outline our position more care-
fully.
In the case of Dean Steiner's comments
we felt the need to respond for several rea-
sons. First of all, there was not one, but a
series of extremely insensitive and offen-
sive comments made by the Dean which
we interpret as racist. For those of you
who may know Dean Steiner personally,
we are not doubting that some of his in-
tentions may be good. Nevertheless, the
comments which we shall enumerate later,
taken precisely in their context, are, in
the judgement of a large sector of the
Black campus community, interpreted as
racist. That is, they reflect a biased and
negative attitude toward a racial minority
and suggest that members of that minority
group, on the whole, are essentially
different than, and in some ways inferior
to members of the majority group in this
society, i.e. whites.
The first comment was made by Steiner
in the context of outlining LS&A Affir-
mative Action goals and policies at which
time the Dean commented that "our chal-
lenge is not to change this university into
another kind of institution where minori-
ties would naturally flock. I need not re-
mind you that there are already such insti-
tutions - Wayne State and Howard Uni-
versities among them. Our challenge is
not to emulate them, but to make the es-
sential quality of the University of Michi-
gan available to more minorities." This is
insulting and problematic on a number of
levels. First of all, even if we substitute a
more suitable verb for "flock," such as
"attend" as Dean Steiner has suggested, the
message is the same. The University of
Michigan's Affirmative Action goal is not
one that seeks to encourage large numbers
of minorities to apply to, be attracted to,
gravitate to, attend, or "flock" to this uni-
versity. There is only one logical
interpretation of this comment; while U of
M does, in fact, desire to attract more mi-
norities, it must be cautious not to attract
too many ; otherwise, its essential quality
will change, presumably for the worse.
It is also a rather disparaging reference
to both Howard and Wayne State.
Steiner's "explanation" of this comment is
that he was simply referring to the
plurality within the American educational
system and that Howard and Wayne are
different schools: urban, less international
and less research oriented than U of M.
Even if we accept these distinctive
descriptions as being fully accurate, this
explanation fails to grasp or address the
most objectionable part of the comment.
We do not challenge that different
institutions have different missions, areas
of expertise, and focus. What we do object
Barbara Ransby is a UCAR steering
committee member.

to is the suggestion that these academic
differences should have any correlation
whatsoever to race. Why would
Michigan's reputation as a premier
research institution be lessened by the
"influx" of large numbers of minority
scholars? Clearly, unless we see minority
scholars as inferior or less capable re-
searchers this should not be the case.
It is important to remember that Dean
Steiner did not say we do not want large
numbers of less qualified scholars to
"flock" here. Rather, he expressed concern
regarding "minority" scholars in particular.
This comment implies that there should
be a tacit ceiling placed on the number of
Black or other minority group scholars al-
lowed to attend the University of Michi-
gan; hence, if they "flock" here, it will
diminish the quality of the University.
This resembles the caps placed on the
number of Asian American students at
West Coast colleges, or the more blatant
quotas that limited the number of Jewish
students accepted into Ivy League schools
before World War II.
If the University takes its own
propaganda seriously, the excellence this
"U" strives for will only be achieved when
large numbers of minorities do indeed
"flock" to Michigan and create the kind of
diversity we ostensibly seek.
The second offensive and racist com-
ment made by Dean Steiner was in a re-
cent LS&A newsletter. The comment
stated that before Blacks could excel in
higher education, they needed to have a
"revolution" in their attitudes toward edu-
cation similar to that of white women
over the past decade. Why is this quote
racist? It assumes one of the principal ob-
stacles to Black advancement in academia
is attributable, not to systematic and his-*
toric policies of discrimination and exclu-
sion coupled with growing economic dis-
parity between the races, but to Black's
themselves. It is a classic example of
"blaming the victim." Of course, some
Blacks may have negative attitudes toward
education, but there is no evidence what-
soever to indicate that such attitudes are
more prevalent among Blacks than whites
or any other group, for that matter.
In fact, this comment is particularly in-
sulting and ill-informed given the fact that
the thirst for knowledge and quest for for-
mal education has been a central theme in
Afro-American history for 200 years.
Slaves risked their lives to learn to read
and after emancipation thousands of Black
freedpeople flooded the public schools set
up by the Freedmens Bureau. More re-
cently, a focal point of the Civil Rights
movement of the 1950s and 60s was the
effort to desegregate public schools in this
country and give Black school-children
equal access to public education, a victory
won only two short decades ago and not
without much bloodshed and suffering on
the part of Black Americans. In fact, it
took hundreds of federal troops and nine
courageous Black children to integrate
Little Rock High School in 1955. Many
of these children were spat upon, chased
and assaulted by vicious racist mobs. It is
against this historical backdrop that we
find Dean Steiner's comments about
negative Black attitudes toward education
particularly biting and insensitive. .
A third example of DeanrSteiner's in-
sensitivity to the issue of racism is re-
flected by an example in his recently re-
issued economics textbook..The example
is offered in a section on how personal bi-

ases and belief systems can potentially in-
terfere with scientists attempts to be fully
objective. The objectionable (dare we say
racist) example suggests that liberal
scientists have declined to investigate the
possibility that there may be differences in
intelligence based on race, because of their
liberal and idealistic beliefs. The quote
reads, "Many (scientists) have strongly
held values, and they may let value
judgements get in the way of their as-
sessment of evidence. For example, many
scientists are not prepared to consider evi-
dence that there may be differences in in-
telligence among races because, as good
liberals, they feel that all races ought to be
equal." Lipsey, Purvis and Steiner, Mi-
croeconomics, 1988.
Untrue. Scientists have not declined to
investigate racial differences in intelligence
in recent years because of their liberalism.
They have declined to investigate this
subject because exhaustive research by ge-
neticists and social scientists has already
demonstrated that there are no such differ-
ences correlated to race. Further, they have
challenged the very notion of a quantifi-
able thing called intelligence or a
scientifically definable system of racial
classification. The most prominent and,,
respected scholar among this group is Dr.
Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard University,
a guest lecturer at U or M two years ago
who attracted an audience of more than
2,500. The example used in Steiner's
textbook, while it does not take a position
on the subject of race and intelligence,
does clearly suggest that such a topic is a
legitimate area of scholarly inquiry, totally
ignoring the exhaustive literature which
has long resolved this debate. Such an in-
quiry would be as futile as a major study
of whether the earth is round or square.
These three quotes, coupled with a
record of inaction with regards to Affirma-
tive Action is why UCAR sat-in for 26
hours in Steiner's office, demanded a pub-
lic meeting and ultimately called for the
Dean's resignation.
Finally, in addition to Dean Steiner's
racist comments, we are even more dis-
turbed by a history of inaction and a set of
statistics that are perfectly consistent with
his statements. For example, there are no
Black assistant or associate deans in
LS&A, and none have been appointed by
Dean Steiner in his entire seven year
tenure; there is only one' tenured Black
woman faculty member "throughout the
entire school of LS&A (all departments);
out of the ninety offers made to new
LS&A faculty last year, only three offers
were made to Blacks, and the executive
board of the College of LS&A has been
all-white ever since most Black faculty
members can recall.
In the University at large, the statistics
are just as disturbing. Out of all professors
at the University, only three percent are
Black, yet the ranks of the University's
service and maintenance employees are
more than 27% Black. Seemingly, we can
recruit Black basketball players and jani-
tors much better than we can recruit Black
scholars and students.
Clearly, these statistics belie the notion
that there is, no correlation between
"racially offensive" comments and
"racially offensive" hiring and recruitment
practices. Not only do we urge Dean
Steiner to re-examine these policies and
their wording more carefully. We intend
to.

I

4

4

4

4

End 'Star Wars'

now

LAST WEEK, the Pentagon suc-
kessfully completed the most costly
and complex experiment yet for
President Reagan's dangerous and
destabilizing Strategic Defense
nitiative (SDI), better known as
Star Wars."
. High testing costs in the SDI pro-
gram creates a bureaucracy and
qonstituency with a budget-busting
price tag to boot. Consequently,
ture policy makers will find it
difficult to halt President Reagan's
trogram. This bodes ill for arms
control.
"Star Wars" will not work in the
1topian fashion that the President
claims. SDI is a pie-in-the-sky idea
and few physicists say it could
function as a defensive shield
against nuclear weapons.
The claim that SDI proponents is
that the could function as a partial
shield against nuclear weapons and
also defend us against nuclear arms
used by terrorists is also false.
In the unlikely event of a nuclear
terrorist attack, the method would
not be an inter-continental ballistic
missile (ICBM) launch, but a bomb
dropped from an airplane or

brought over in a suitcase.
And the partial shield will not de-
fend us from a partial nuclear attack
because a partial nuclear war is an
impossibility. More likely is an all-
out nuclear war. In this case, a par-
tial shield of strategic defense
causes the enemy only to send even
more nuclear weapons through the
air.
SDI, then, is only a costly way of
accelerating the production of
ICBM's and other long-range nu-
clear missiles in a new round of the
arms race.
But even more disconcerting is
the slim chance that SDI will func-
tion as the President and his col-
leagues envision. In this scenario,
SDI could become more than a de-
fensive shield: it could give the
U.S. the ability to launch a first-
strike nuclear attack. This upsets
and destabilizes the present nuclear
balance.
Testing and experimenting with
the Strategic Defense Initiative may
seem innocent. But it will institu-
tionalize a weapons system which is
prohibitively costly, probably use-
less, and potentially destabilizing.

q

LETTERS

Accept sexual orientation

Zinn

Divest the rest

4

THE UNIVERSITY BOARD of Re-,
gents' victory over the Michigan
state law, which required all state
universities to divest from South
Africa, is tainted by their obvious
unwillingness to complete this pro-
cess themselves. The Regents
should have divested all holdings
and chosen another issue to assert
the University's autonomy from the
state. They must now mandate that
all remaining funds be immediately
removed.
The University successfully ar-
gued in the Michigan Court of Ap-
peals that the 1982 state law which
mandated divestment violated the
Tyni.w:r.t:... ri ..: t .r of - r- -.

the University left invested is com-
paratively small, any money that
benefits South Africa tacitly sup-
ports the disgraceful system of
apartheid that oppresses the region.
The investment also represents
University profits made off the
people of South Africa.
There is no excuse for keeping
investments in South Africa. One
would be extremely hard-pressed to
find a justification for the violent
subjugation of the Black majority of
the region by the white minority
Botha regime. Blacks in South
Africa live in a society that grants
them no rights, deprives them of
art r.al lifr nlann- r:-1I' tol"

To the Daily:
We are members of Parents
and Friends of Lesbians and
Gays (Parents FLAG) in Ann
Arbor, and we are writing in
support of the University of
Michigan student's group
Lesbian and Gay Rights on
Campus (LaGROC). LaGROC
has been lobbying for five
years to revise the Regental
Bylaws concerning
discrimination, to in-clude the
words "sexual orient-ation" as
one of the minorities the
university agrees to protect.
The regents voted recently
(January 1988) to endorse a
1984 "policy statement." We
believe this policy stops short
of being supportive, and should
instead add "sexual orientation"

rights to commensurate with
those which heterosexual
people take for granted.
If the regents believe in the
"policy statement" that they
recently endorsed, and are
indeed concerned with equal
opportunities and non-
discrimination for lesbians and
gays as well as for other mi-
norities in the university
community, then we as
concerned parents and friends
urge them to take a firmer
stand in this matter. Other
universities, including Yale,
Stanford, and Ohio State
already have existing bylaws
which protect gay students.
The University of Michigan
needs to take more of a
sAn me .nr, in n:.. - n. n:- 11

PESNALYITHN

Illil'jr

Na

F

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