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March 16, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-16

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I

OPINION
Page 4 Wednesday, March 16, 1988 The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
* 4
Vol. XCVIII No. 111 420 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.
Student protest triumphs

Wrong values foster racism

By Henryk Skolimowski

THE APPOINTMENT OF a deaf
president at Gallaudet University
after a week of intense student
protest is a propitious sign that
students may still have some input
in determining the direction of
higher education. The appointment
also marks a significant national
gain for deaf rights.
Students, alumni, and faculty
together forced the board of trustees
of the District of Columbia
university to reconsider its choice of
Fa non-deaf president over two deaf
candidates. The protestors at the
2,200-student institution halted
classes for a week and attracted
national attention to their demands.
The school's board of trustees,
which is comprised of mostly non-
deaf members, has also agreed to
include more hearing-impaired
people among its ranks.
Upon resigning her short tenure,
the non-deaf president even
congratulated the students and
faculty for having such deep
concern for the administration of
their university. Her deaf
replacement is the first president
with such a handicap in Gallaudet's
124-year history.
The protestors at Gallaudet
deserve commendation for asserting
their right to direct their education.
By calling for a deaf president, the

agitators helped insure that the
administration of their university
would be more understanding and
receptive to student needs. The
students and faculty demanded, and
received, more control over their
curriculum.
The deaf president signifies not
only a victory for student rights in
general, but also for the rights of
deaf citizen's nationwide. Gallaudet
students have demonstrated that
they will no longer tolerate the
rhetoric which implicitly states that
a deaf person is incapable of
running an institution, whether
educational or otherwise. Deaf
people may now look to Gallaudet's
new president as the embodiment of
their aspirations.
Moreover, the new appointment is
a victory for deaf people outside of
the United States, since Gallaudet
University is looked upon
worldwide as the premier institution
of higher education for the deaf.
That this all-deaf student
university now has a hearing-
impaired president is a substantial
affirmation of deaf peoples' and
students' rights. This victory will
raise the morale of deaf people
nationwide and students
everywhere who wish to affect the
shape of their educational
opportunities.

This is the first in a two part series.
1 have been watching, with great inter-
est, how the discussion on racism on this
campus has moved from specific instances
to deeper underlying principles. The phe-
nomenon has many layers and unless we
penetrate it to its causes, we may not be
able to find sufficient remedies in the long
run. Hiring some new" Black professors is
a good option, but it addresses only the
surface of the phenomenon, not its deep
causes.
Recently James Chaffers claimed that
excessive competition is one of the
sources of racism. This is right. Sandra
Steingraber argued that "white people
profit from racism." (Daily, 1/2/88) This
is right again.
Yet there is a deeper core which we
have not addressed so far. This core is val-
ues. Let us see clearly that our overt ac-
tion and our forms of thinking follow
from and are inspired by values - which
although hidden deep down, orchestrate the
whole thing. We have not been able to
deal with racism at this university, and
with many other problems: sexism, in-
equality, the erosion of human meaning
and inner emptiness, because we have not
addressed the causes of these phenomena
- the deeper values that underlie our en-
tire social structure and the structure of
this school.
What are the values that actually con-
trol this university, and most of this soci-
ety? These are the values of competition
(of wanting to go to the top -- at what-
ever and whosoever's expense), of individ-
ualism, of egotism, of materialism.
Officially, the University advocates an-
other set of (public) values: impartiality,
objectivity, clinical detachment, analytical
scrutiny; on another level: abstract reason
at the expense of emotions, the atomistic
approach at the expense of wholistic, un-
derstanding; physical facts at the expense
of the aesthetic and spiritual phenomena;
gadgets, computers and buildings at the
expense of people and deeper human rela-
tionships.
Now we have to see that the public set
of values (objectivity, the atomistic ap-
proach and all of that - which society
approves, and of which the University is a
self-appointed guardian) are related to, and
actually feed- into the more personal and
individual values of competition, egotism,
and resulting from them -- uncaringness,
Skolimowski is a Prof. of Philosophy in
the College of Engineering.

moral anesthesia, and the feeling that you
Rre here only for yourself.
Let us put it quite simply. The overall
materialism which the University pro-
motes through a variety of its teaching,
particularly taking into account what it
emphasizes and what it excludes or dimin-
ishes, creates a value-vacuum, in the wake
of which relativism and nihilism creep in
to disorient us, to make us unable to dis-
tinguish what is right from what is
wrong, and why.
It is no good to say that the University
does not take any stand on values, that it
leaves the values to particular individuals,
while in fact, through its practicesvand its
teaching, it powerfully supports and per-
petuates one set of values which in the
end, help to create the corporate mentality;
indeed a much stronger term is needed -
which in the end supports a form of be-
nign corporate fascism. What is most im-
portant for the corporate mentality? The
pursuit of profit and the pursuit of power.
This university, and other leading univer-
sities, are preparing students to be
"successes" within the corporate structure.
The value implications of this endeavor
are quite far reaching, and hardly ever ana-
lyzed.
Let us briefly examine some of the
policies and practices of the University to
support some of the assertions made. I
will speak out of my experience. For a
number of years, I have been trying to
persuade the administration of the Univer-
sity, including the President and Vice
President of Academic Affairs, about the
advisability and indeed necessity of an
ethics course for the whole university, at
least for 400-500 students who would like
to take it. I have submitted specific pro-
posals for such courses. The answer has
always been an evasive no - usually
justified with some kind of semi-rational
arguments. One such argument was that
the University believes in the pluralism of
values, and it might be wrong to try to
impose one set of values.
It has to be pointed out however, that
no one talked about imposing one set of
values. The crux of the proposals was a
reexamination of values in depth in order
to make students realize how important
values are in their lives in their thinking.
"Unexamined life is not worth living."
Unexamined values are not worth having.
By refusing to examine values seri-
ously, the University has ipso facto per-
petuated one-sided, materialist, competi-
tive, uncaring values; their offsprings are
sexism and racism.

I have more than a suspicion, that this
unwillingness to examine the values in
depth is also motivated by deeper subjec-
tive factors. The guardians of the status
quo feel that it is better not to touch val-
ues which favor them and the status quo
they serve. When values are revealed, the
whole structure often becomes transparent
- for its equities and inequities, for its
justice and injustices, for its tolerance or
bigotry. We thus have to clearly be aware
that the alleged defense of the pluralism of
the values is in fact the defense of the sta-
tus quo, which this university has been
skillfully maintaining.
In this context, the various assertions
of President Shapiro, which he made in
the interviews before he left for Princeton
(see especially Ann Arbor Observer, Jan-
uary, 1988) about the importance of val-
ues, ring hollow.
Hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to
virtue says La Rochefoucauld. One won-
ders whether the various positive state-
ments about values, which our top
administrators utter from time to time -
while in their actual policies and practices
they single-mindedly perpetuate the one-
sided, competitive, harsh, uncaring values
- is the result of this hypocrisy; or per-
haps the result of some kind of blindness.
Or perhaps a bit of both.
The other argument which I heard while
pressing for an all University course on
ethics and values was that there was no
extra money for this particular project.
This argument makes you gasp. Some 15
years ago there were hardly any instructors
teaching the use of computers. Now there
are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of them.
And together they cost the University
quite a bit of money. When it was decided
that several hundred computers were
needed, we found millions of dollars to
buy them. AND YET WE CANNOT
FIND FINANCIAL RESOURCES FOR
ONE ETHICS COURSE. This eloquently
testifies to where our values are!
Whenever an established department
wants to buy some hardware, computers or
whatnot, there is always money available
for such things - usually running into
hundreds of thousands of dollars. When-
ever a marginal problem, such as
Affirmative Action, asks for some soft
money to foster a deeper understanding of
human matters - there is always an up-
hill struggle - even if the money
amounts to peanuts. This again eloquently
testifies to where our values are!

I

Public image over safety

ON MARCH 2, THE DAILY ran an
editorial criticizing Gelman Sciences
Ipc. for its role in creating the sec-
Qnd worst toxic waste site in the
state, and for legal antics performed
in order to absolve itself of blame.
The next day Gelman vice president
James Marshall appeared at the
Daily's offices accompanied by an
attorney in an attempt to defend the
company.
The Daily is aware that Gelman is
extremely concerned with its image
in the media. Unfortunately, the
Ann Arbor families that had to drink
bottled water, and shower in motels
for ten months because of the unac-
eeptable levels of dioxane in their
water were not victims of a "bad
image." Gelman should be less
concerned with its media appear-
ance and be more cooperative about
cleaning up its mess.
According to Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) regula-
tions, it is illegal for a company to
dispose of anything injurious to
human health. The DNR classifies
dioxane as a "threshold" type car-
cinogen, which means that it is
dangerous at any level. Gelman has
a vested interest in maintaining that
certain levels of contamination are
acceptable, nonetheless their ability
to judge toxic standards is doubt-
fully more effective than the DNR
or Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA).
Gelman cannot credibly maintain
that they were innocent victims of a
lack of information during the entire
period that they were disposing of
dioxane. Dioxane has been. on the
SEPA critical materials list since
1980, and has been a known car-
cinogen since 1965. Gelman used
dioxane until 1986. In addition,
Charles Gelman has a M.A. from
the U of M School of Public
Health, and clearly has an ethical as
well as a legal obligation to make
sure that this known carcinogen is
being properly handled.
The 'cmnanv claimst n have been

...-

and experience with the substance,
'this seems impossible. The com-
pany's' lack of regard seems even
more likely considering Gelman
Sciences did not report that it was
disposing of dioxane to the DNR
until 1980, although it should have
given a complete inventory when
applying for a permit in 1976.
Gelman Sciences emphasizes that
it conducted a series of tests for
dioxane contamination on the Third
Sister Lake. One series of results,
however, was withheld from the
public on the grounds that the re-
sults were questionable. The reason
given by their lawyer was that they
"would not serve any useful
purpose." One year later, the lake
was found to be contaminated at a
level of 510 parts per billion; the
state health standard for dioxane in
drinking water is 2 parts per billion.
Furthermore, according to Dan
Bicknell, the University graduate
student who originally uncovered
the contamination problem, Gelman
itself agreed that the drainage ditch
disposal into the Third Sister Lake
was illegal, and required a National
Pollution Discharge Elimination
System permit.
It is true that the DNR did not re-
spond adequately on many occa-
sions to the Gelman situation.
However blaming the DNR for
Gelman's pollution is like blaming
the police for a robbery because
they were not present, when it
occurred: clearly, it is the robber,
and not the cop who should be
punished. It was Gelman's respon-
sibility to keep the DNR informed.
Instead, DNR official Mary
Vanderlaan describes their behavior
as "minimally cooperative".
One must question Gelman's lack
of responsibility and innocence;
Gelman Sciences is not a victim.
They are a comp any with a vested
interest both in looking good to the
public, and in spending as little
money as possible to clean up the

I

LETTERS:

Kaplan helps wealthy with SA Ts

To the Daily:
I am'responding to Professor
Hornback's letter of March 4,
in which he attacked the unfair
privilege that Stanley Kaplan
represents. After graduating
from LSA in 1985, I lived in.
New York for two years.
There, I worked as a tutor for a
standardized test review course
(not Stanley Kaplan). My stu-
dents were billed $40 for each
hour we spent together. You
can well imagine that many of
these sessions were, for me, an
odyssey through the privileged
world of Upper East Side lux-
ury apartments and t h e
architectural marvels ofRiver-
dale. And, yes, my work was a
source of moral anguish to me.
The only rationalization I
could offer myself was that, in
the tradition of the live-in
governor, the money was
passing from a rich patron to
the poor poet. Not Simply ig-
noring the system of privilege
was not a satisfactory conclu-
sion. Yet this is exactly what
the Educational Testing Ser-
vice, the maker of the SAT,
does in its irresponsible posi-
tion on review courses. Insist-
ing that Kaplan, et al., is inef-
fective, denies the real situa-
tion. Believe me, standardized
test preparationt works all too
well. Studies have shown a
strong correlation between
SAT scores and family income.
In our own University, the

On a recent SAT, and I'm ex-
aggerating only slightly, the
easiest analogy was TUTU:
DANCER. You, bet those who
can afford ballet lessons have
the right answer. However, that
the use of the SAT will be
curtailed or eliminated is un-
likely, certainly for the next
five years. Neither Kaplan, nor
ETS, nor even the federal gov-
ernment can be held re-
sponsible.
Professor Hornback's idea of
personal responsibility - that

each arid every one of us is
responsible - is an honorable
suggestion. In no way do I
wish to demean it. Therefore, I
appeal to the parents of Kaplan
students to make a contribution
to the Office of Minority Af-
fairs equal opportunity fund.
To Professor Moody, I offer
my time to tutor a disadvan-
taged student.
Meanwhile, I will probably
resume tutoring for SATs and
GREs this summer, to pay my
out-of-state tuition bill (over

$9,000). My "justification"
this time is that, as an inde-
pendent tutor, I am not greatly
contributing to the institution-
alization of economic dis-
advantage. Where does final
responsibility lie? It is up to
every college and university
that uses standardized tests
among its admissions criteria
to insure that equal access to
preparation courses is available
to all applicants!!!
--Alex Cigale
March 9

Challenging the media presentation of Israel

To the Daily:
As a visiting student in the
One Year Program at the He-
brew University in Jerusalem, I
never thought of myself as a
foreign correspondent for your
paper.
However, after reading the
press accounts about what's
happening here and comparing
that with what I'm actually
experiencing here in Israel, I
felt compelled to write to you.
Nightly press in the States is
bombarded with pictures of vi-
olence in the streets, of burn-
ing tire's, petrol bombs and the
rest occurring in Gaza and the
West Bank. A comparison
could be made to placing TV
cameras in all the slums in
America and broadcasting this
abroad as an example of "Life
in the United States."

of South Africa and is a part of
their law and society. Military
rule, and the demonstrations
seen on TV, are confined to the
Gaza Strip and West Bank, not
Israel proper. I am not denying
there are problems in the terri-
tories, and Israelis in general
seem very concerned with the
situation, but the country as a

whole is at peace and is a very
pleasant and interesting place
to visit.
I am glad I came here as a
visiting student, and I encour-
age your readers to come for a
visit too if they want to get a
true perspective of what is re-
ally going on here.
-Rina Edelstein
January 3Q

I

]MV r~~'I. /971'. lu - AW' I

A

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