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January 13, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-01-13

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, January 13, 1988

The Michigan Daily

Code threatens a free press

te tentt Michigan
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCVIII, No.71

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.

Alternative
ALMOST AS SIGNIFICANT as what
University President Ro bben
Fleming did say in his proposed
code of behavior for non-academic
life is what he did not say. Beyond
the issues of bigotry and civil liber-
ties, Fleming's proposed rules for
life outside the classroom simply
lack credibility.
Previous editorials in the Daily
have detailed how the University
administration under both President
Fleming and President Shapiro
failed in their work against racism,
sexism and homophobia. This past
and present failure belies the stated
intentions of Fleming's proposed
code for dealing with bigotry. Fu-
ture editorials will certainly have
more to say about what the admin-
istration should do if it is serious
about fighting racism.
Likewise, the University admin-
istration's failure to take advantage
of simple alternatives to the code
demonstrates that the real reason for
implementing administration rules
for non-academic life has nothing to
do with actual student, faculty or
worker behaviors.
Vor example, for the first time,
the University administration only
two months ago gave legal support
to a student who complained about
sexual harassment by a professor.
("'U' stands by women in slander
suit," Daily 11/24/87) Jntil this
case, the University was unwilling
to put its money where its mouth
was.
Even in this exemplary case,
however, the University only of-
fered legal resources to two women
to defend themselves against a
slander suit. The University has yet
to put itself behind serious efforts to
prosecute bigots in the legal system.
If the University were serious
about fighting discrimination, it
would set aside money for legal
fees and a publicity program to in-
form students what they can do
legally about anti-gay, sexist and
racist harassment and speech. Yet,
the University clearly distrusts the
judicial system.

1to the code
demonstrated by the fact that it does
not dare fight a battle of public
opinion to pass a state law restrict-
ing bigoted or other acts of speech.
Fleming and Shapiro have realized
quite well that the public would
never support the abolition of the
First Amendment.
The only people Fleming seems to
trust are the predominantly older,
white males-most of the
University deans. In fact, Shapiro
and Fleming have not entirely
trusted the administration's power
either because they are unwilling to
make press releases and use the
University Record to publicly
criticize bigots by name. In some
cases, the University has chosen
not to publicly criticize the bigots
involved at all.
The press's criticism of WJJX
disc jockey Ted Sevransky for his
running of racist jokes on the air
was a national humiliation to
Sevransky and forced him into an
apology..Concerned with Univer-
sity prestige, however, the Univer-
sity administration wrongly wishes
to keep such incidents out of the
press and deal with them behind the
closed doors of a dean's office.
The blind pursuit of prestige is
one of the real reasons that Fleming
is setting up his code of non-aca-
demic conduct. The University ad-
ministration believes that disgrace to
Sevransky is a disgrace to the
whole university, but instead of
admitting that disgrace in order to
heal it, the University covers it up.
The University administration and
students both have the option of in-
formal negotiations without the use
of a code or the formal legal sys-
tem. Because no law is absolute or
capable of being enforced equitably,
the informal process of negotia-
tions, where both parties have some
power is likely to be most produc-
tive.
The University's failure to take
aggressive legal and media action
on the issues of bigotry is one of
the reasons that it is hard to view
Fleming's proposed code as any-
thing more than a publicity stunt to
sanitize the University's damaged
public image.

By Rob Earle and Seth
Klukoff
While combatting discrimination is an
admirable goal, Interim President Robben
Fleming's guidelines against discrimina-
tion and harassment will, if enacted, seri-
ously infringe on the freedom of the press.
The language of Fleming's Code is vague,
which leaves its provision open to broad
interpretation by those by those empow-
ered to enforce them. The Code seeks to
curtail "(H)arassment of anyone through
word or deed, or any other behavior which
discriminates on the basis of inappropriate
criteria..." Moreover, Fleming argues that
"...a great many American universities
have taken the position that students...
cannot by speaking or writing discrimina-
tory remarks... claim immunity from a
campus disciplinary proceeding."
Although it is not explicitly stated in
the language of the above passages, the
Fleming Code implicitly restricts the
press. If a student reads a sexist or racist
word in a quote), he or she can file a
Earle is Editor in Chief of The Daily.
Klukoff is Editor in Chief of The Michi-
gan Review.

grievance against that publication. Taking
this example a step further, the Fleming
Code would allow a particular student who
holds a particular grudge against The
Michigan Daily or The Michigan Review
to scrutinize either publication that she or
he can interpret as discriminatory. That
student can then report the alleged viola-
tion to the appropriate official and, voila,
the publication is at the mercy of the tri-
bunal.
Fleming's Code also fails to address
student journalists' ethical responsibility
to protect their sources. Could a reporter
be compelled to testify in front of a judi-.
cial panel, dean, or the president? In order
to conduct itself in a fair and objective
manner, the student press must not be co-
erced to gather information for any body
other than itself. The student press can
answer only to the University community
as a whole. To take sides makes a mock-
ery of the concept of a free press. The state
of Michigan, and most other states, has
passed shield laws protecting journalists
from being forced to testify in front of any
body short of a grand jury. The University
should provide similar protection for
working student journalists.
In 1984, former President Harold

Shapiro expressed support for such a
shield provision. "I agree that we should
carefully guard the freedom of the press,"
he wrote to former Daily Editor in Chief
Bill Spindle. Shapiro said that a shield
provision should be "incorporated into any
code or system the University might
adopt."
Even when some members of the Uni-
versity community fail to live up to their
social and ethical responsibilities to indi-
viduals and the community, the paramount
obligation of the University is to protect
their right of free expression. The Fleming
Code is a vague, quick-fix solution to a
serious societal malady affecting our cam-
pus. Discrimination and harassment are
intolerable, but Fleming's Code does not
address the disease of prejudice, only the
symptoms. Under all its rhetoric lies this
disturbing paradox. While intending to in-
still a "caring, respectful, and understand-
ing social climate" at the University, the
Fleming Code would create a Big Brother
environment for the students. And the
press, the source. of information for the
students, and a medium to educate the
campus about discrimination, will instead
have to operate while looking over its
shoulder.

LETTERS
Faculty members support MLK Day

The University
also distrusts the

administration
legislature as

To the Daily:
We are dismayed and an-
gered by the statement of
LSA Dean Peter Steiner that
was made at the September
17th meeting of department
chairpersons and published in
full in the January 9th issue
of the Ann Arbor News.
Even when given the most
generous interpretation, his
view that "Our challenge is
not to change this University
into another kind of institu-
tion where minorities would
flock in much greater num-
bers," is intolerable and un-
acceptable to us in this or
any other context. What can
he possibly mean except that
a large presence of people of
color would reflect poorly in
some fashion on the Univer-
sity of Michigan?
Our view is just t h e
opposite. We believe that a
dramatic increase of people
of color would qualitatively
enhance the intellectual and
cultural life of the Univer-
sity. It is precisely to meet
such an objective that the
University does need to be
changed.
The appearance of Dean
Steiner's remarks only
underscores the need for dra-
matic education and action
along the lines of the de-
Debating M
To the Daily:
Hi! Would you be
interested in signing a pledge
sheet to boycott classes on
January 18 in honor of Martin
Luther King's birthday. There
will be other educational
opportunities provided
throughout the day on the
topics of racism, sexism,
segaration and oppression of
peoples in general.
I don't want to sign.
Can I ask why?
I don't agree.
Do you agree with conscious
oppression, violent aggression
and Apartheid?
I have payed for this
instution's education, have
freely choosen my classes and
thus will not boycott them if
they are meeting.
Many peoples have payed
with their lives just for the
opportunity of an education.
Well why this .day and not
others?
Dr. King and his fellow
activists did so much in
attempting to achieve equality
and justice for everyone. In

mands of the United Coali-
tion Against Racism
(UCAR).'
In particular, a national
movement is underway to
turn Martin Luther King Jr.'s
birthday into an authentic
holiday - one that will
honor King and the Civil
Rights Movement, as well
as express a commitment to
abolish all forms of racism.
Here at the University of
Michigan UCAR and the
Black Student Union (BSU)
have been requesting for
many months that the
administration cancel classes
on Monday, January 18, as
an indication of support to
this effort.
Regrettably, the adminis-
tration has failed to respond
to a request that is reasonable
and fully warranted. This
situation has forced UCAR,
BSU and other groups to call
for a boycott of classes on
that day. As an alternative
educational activity, they are
arranging all day anti-racist
educational events in the
Anderson Room of Michigan
Union from 9 a.m. to 5
p.m., except during the time
of the "Unity March" from
South University Street to
the Diag (11:30 a.m. to 1
p.m.).
ELK boycott
higher ground of equality and
justice for every race and creed.-
I'll think about it.,
Before you go, may I make
one last statement? A quote
by Dr. King, "Darkness cannot
drive out darkness, only light
can do that. Hate cannot drive
out hate, only love can do
that." And from my own
heart, I ask you to choose
empathy not apathy.
-David Fiske
January 10
EVEYoI K1oJTS
WJ{wER I E INSiAI
ETADE oDT
TiffF; 1I$3 UE OF
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JEW35

Concerned Faculty, an
organization of UM faculty
and staff who support the
anti-racist movement, agrees
that under present
circumstances this is an
especially appropriate
proposal on the part of
UCAR and BSU; we urge all
members of the university
community to participate.
For further informhtion
about Concerned Faculty,
call Guild House at 662-
5189.

Behavior was disgraceful

To the Daily:
Protestors, we respect your
right to express your opin-
ions about the peace process
in the Middle East. How-
ever, you disrupted us from
expressing our opinions.
You started clearly in the
Daily that you were going to
peacefully attend the lecture
of Ambassador Zvi Brosh.
Your behavior was not
onlyedisruptive, b u t
completely disrespectful.
We stated that there would be
ample time for questions and
Continue to
To the Daily:
I wish to commend your
editorial on the recent remarks
of LSA Dean Peter Steiner in
the LSA newsletter and the
guest editorial by the members
of Concerned Faculty. Both
editorials seem related to chal-
lenging the victim-blaming of
Dean Steiner and the "business
as usual" attitude of the Uni-
versity administration and fac-
ulty. It does make one wonder
if the University is serious
about overcoming racism on
this campus; for to do so it
needs to change its own atti-
tudes about the problem. Mere
tokenism smacks of insincerity
and a veiled attitude of main-
taining the status quo.

answers in which you could
express your views. You
took away from this valuable
time through your behavior.
We feel that your behavior
exemplifies why peace
between Arabs and Tsraelis
cannot progress..
Sondra Panilo
Beth Bernhaut
Marc J. Berman
Michael Sherman
Darya Hoffman
Ted Sherman
Steven Stryk
-January 12
speak out
Until the University admin-
istration, faculty, and students
recognize that racism in our
society has been institutional-
ized on every level of our edu-
cational process, and can be
countered only if the entire
community confronts and
makes a firm commitment
against it, then will any
significant changes become a
reality.
Since you are obviously
members of a small minority
here, I hope you will continue
to speak out or write about the
problem the University power
structure always tries very hard
to sweep under the rug.
-Duane Niatum
December 3

4

-Buzz Alexander,
English Dept.
Bunyan Bryant,
Natural Resources
Ann Marie Coleman,
Guild House
Miriam Greenberg,
Medical School
Bonnie Kaye,
Public Health
Alan Wald,
English Dept.
Tom Weisskopf,
Economics
January 12

4
I

Don't narrow curriculum

A STRONGER and more diverse
education will better prepare
American students to be
internationally competitive and will
uphold democracy. Nevertheless,
Secretary of Education William
Bennett's model curriculum in the
mythical "James Madison High
School" should be rejected by most
American high schools as to narrow
for the vast diversity of interests
which students hold.
The curriculum may be approp-
riate for a university-bound student,
but it must be remembered that
many high school students, and a
large majority of students in areas
of poverty, do not go on to college
at all.
For those high school students,
the curriculum is just too tough.
This is evident in the details of
Bennett's curriculum. In 12th
grade, students are required to read
the Greek and Roman classics,
Dante, Dostoevsky, Zola, Mann,
and Ibsen. In 11th grade, the re-
quired readings include Milton.

schools.
The model high school appears
ethnocentric. For instance, the so-
cial science curriculum consists of
Western civilization, American his-
tory, and the "Principles of Ameri-
can Democracy and the World."
Though it is important that Ameri-
cans learn about their culture, stu-
dents must also learn about the im-
portance of other cultures. Time
should also be devoted to special-
ized education programs, such as
Black History Month.-
There are two other problems
with Bennett's proposal: it cuts out
innovative "alternative schools" and
leaves little room for vocational
education.
More important than solely high
school emphasis is the improvement
of preparation in elementary and ju-
nior high programs.
Once a "James Madison High
School"ais possible, modernized
vocational training should be in-
cluded in order to prepare students.
If Bennett continues to make fi-
nancial aid difficult for students to

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