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September 15, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-15

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, September 15, 1988

The Michigan Daily

4

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol.lIC No. 6 420 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.

Caught

up

in

elitism

t

Block Gla
G ELMAN SCIENCES, the manu- showers
facturer of medical filters is the creator ety. It wz
of what was once ranked the second had been
worst toxic waste site in the state of beneatht
Michigan. Now, Gelman has re- -In 19
quested a permit to inject contaminated ber two
wastewater into its underground well Resourc
just west of Ann Arbor. of Envir
To ensure the safety of the commu- man con
nity's drinking water Environmental mess it]
,Protection Agency (EPA) should deny and the 1
Gelman's request. However, given the the com
EPA's history of complicity with Gel- the flai
man's disregard for environmental currently
laws and human health, the Ann Arbor underlyir
community cannot trust it to act re- -The
sponsibly on its own. deep we]
Tocsin, a local environmental group, greatd
joined with the Natural Resources De- trusted.
fense Council last week in filing a law- to repor
suit challenging the EPA's new DNR an
regulations for hazardous waste Gelm
disposal. disposin
Tonight, students and community though t
members will have a more immediate pteuhv
opportunity to try to protect the quality Gelm
of their water and pressure the EPA test resu
into doing its job. EPA representatives th
have agreed to hear public comment on se grou
the decision of whether or not to grant any use
2Gelman's permit request. There are lake was
several compelling reasons why all level of:
Ann Arbor residents who don't want to sory foro
be exposed to the threat of contami- ppb).
T nated drinking water should attend the There
hearing. Gelman
eThough the permit would allow reason t
Gelman to dispose of only permit r
"nonhazardous wastewater," the term would c
nonhazardous is misleading. Gelman's ception a
vwastestream contains 1,4-dioxane, the -Whe
chemical that has contaminated nearby well wa
,groundwater. The long-term health ef- debate o
- fects of dioxane, which has been been ade
demonstrated to cause cancerous tu- not yet
mors in animals, are still unknown. possible
Whether or not dioxane should be grounda
classified as hazardous waste is under the wate
dispute. Gelman
-Gelman's miserable record of water moneyt
contamination and environmental care- toring w
lessness leaves no room for giving the mine the
company another chance at the expense The w
of the Ann Arbor community. In 1986, is contar
dangerous levels of dioxane were dis- has been
covered in over 50 residential and contamir
commercial wells near Gelman. Sixty treatmer
families living near Gelman were from spr
plunged into a nightmare of motel come fr

.'S

Perm".

Ii

By Daniel Axelrod
Many academics think they are smarter
than anyone else. They figure that when
they take Pentagon money, the Pentagon
isn't using them; they are using the Pen-
tagon. That elitism blinds academics to
the fact that they actually work for some-
body. They think they work for nobody
but themselves. The "somebody" they
work for, unfortunately, is not the ordi-
nary working person or community resi-
dent who has very real and clear needs, but
the highest bidder.

lot, and its faculty picks up its share of
weekly awards from professional societies,
although not as much as do the faculty at
our self-proclaimed peer institutions. This
is quality, the only measures of quality the
administration cares to use: money, pub-
lications, and awards.
If UM stood for quality education,
why do students have to stand for hours on
a CRISP registration line only to get
locked out of huge 500-student lectures
taught by professors who wish they didn't
have to teach at all and obviously show it?
Why is a student's only contact with a
teacher in the first couple of years likely

bottled water, and high anxi-
as also found that the chemical
leaking into the groundwater
the Saginaw forest.
87, Gelman was ranked num-
on the Department of Natural
es' (DNR) Priority List of Sites
onmental Contamination. Gel-
tinues to refuse to clean up the
has made of the environment
ives of the people poisoned by
pany's negligence. Sixteen of
lies, as well as the DNR, are
y suing Gelman for pollution of
ng groundwater.
EPA's system of monitoring
11 injection processes relies to a
egree on corporate honesty.
has forfeited its right to be
In the past, Gelman has failed
t important information to the
d EPA.
an did not report that they were
g of dioxane until 1980, al-
hey should have given a com-
entory four years earlier.
an refused to release a series of
Its on the Third Sister Lake on
nds that "this would not serve
ful purpose." A year later, the
found to be contaminated at a
510 ppb (the State health advi-
dioxane in drinking water is 2
is no reason to believe that
has refinmed; there is every
o believe that if the current
equest was granted, Gelman
ontinue in its pattern of de-
nd irresponsibility.
n the original permit for the
s approved, there was much
ver whether or not the well had
equately tested. This debate has
been resolved. It is entirely
that there are cracks in the
around the well through which
:r can flow up to ground level.
has refused to spend the
on the seismic tests or moni-
'ells which would better deter-
safety of the well.
eater in the area around Gelman
minated. No conclusive proof
i offered as to its source. The
nation may have come from the
at lagoons, it may have come
ray irrigation, and it may have
om leakage of the water in the
ll. As long as the possibility
contamination came from the
sts, it is ludicrous to consider
Gelman a permit to expand it
e well and increase the poten-
er.
an has already done too much
to the Ann Arbor community.
s and local residents must de-
iat the EPA act responsibly:
's permit request must be de-
nd the hearing tonight
7:00 at the Washtenaw
Clerk's office, 101 E.
Room 202.

'If UM stood for quality education, why do students have to stand for
hours on a CRISP registration line only to get locked out of huge 500-
student lectures taught by professors who wish they didn't have to
teach at all and obviously show it?'

The highest bidder these days is increas-
ingly the Pentagon. The chief immediate
beneficiary of the research is not the
common person, but the network of high-
tech corporations that will produce and sell
the devices pioneered by the researcher at
the University. The University researcher
essentially does R&D work for the mili-
tary-industrial complex, except at taxpayer
expense.
Elitism not only blinds academics to
militarism, but it also blinds them to
racism. Of course, LSA Dean Peter
Steiner's remark of last year is a prime
example of racism. If you recall, he said
that hiring Black faculty from Black col-
leges was more risky than hiring faculty
from the cabal of other elitist schools eu-
phemistically referred to as our "peer
institutions." He generally indicated that
as the University puts more emphasis on
attracting Black students, it threatens its
primary goals of excellence, quality, out-
standingness, distinctiveness, and all those
other good words.
Now some people may claim that hav-
ing more Blacks, poor people, children of
blue collar workers, clerical workers, His-
panics, around here would be very educa-
tional to the children from rich and exclu-
sive Bloomfield Hills-type suburbs, who
seem to be overrepresented here among
undergraduates. A broader spectrum of
students and a curriculum to reflect more
cultural and political diversity may even
lead rich kids to conclude that poor people
do not choose to be poor, nor are rich
people any smarter or better than poor
people.
But Steiner's remarks were so racist that
people forget how elitist they are. Elitist
remarks are so common around here that
people don't even analyze them anymore.
What was Steiner talking about any-
way? Granted, the University of Michigan
ranks in a lot of grant money, publishes a
Axelrod is a Prof. of Physics and co-au-
thor of the book To Win a Nuclear War:
The Pentagon's Secret War Plans.

to be teaching assistants who may or may
not speak the same language as the student
and who in any event are grossly underpaid
for college teaching? Why does UM em-
ploy its graduate students to be on the
edge of poverty or below?
If UM stood for quality education, why
does it hire and promote faculty members
almost exclusively on the basis of research
quality, as narrowly defined above, and
almost not at all on the basis of teaching
ability?
Under these conditions, incorrectly de-
scribed as quality, undergraduates could get
a comparable or better education at many,
many other four year colleges, and pay a
lot less for it too. If Peter Steiner was re-
ally concerned about educational equality
around here, he wouldn't fear more Blacks;
he would welcome them and instead start
institutional policy changes orienting this
place toward high quality teaching of a di-
verse student population.
But the unrelenting, self-congratulatory
elitism that oozes from every administra-
tive statement only obfuscates the reality
that seems much more obvious to out-
siders looking in. Academic elitism serves
as a cover for racism and as a cover for
militarism and as a cover for sexism. My
own department, Physics, has never had a
female faculty in the professorial ranks
since the beginning of the cosmos - al-
though the University has had opportuni-
ties to hire extremely qualified women in
Physics.
What is at the core of academic elitism?
In the spectrum between individualism and
collectivism, elitism is way over on the
side of individualism. Individualism per-
mits only one question: Are regulations
against military research fair to the indi-
vidual military researcher? But collec-
tivism demands to know: What about
fairness to the targets of those weapons
being invented?
Even something as ubiquitous as racism
is viewed entirely as an individual affair.
Racism is seen as bad thinking on the part

of some unenlightened individuals: they
discriminate on the basis of race. Such
people are said to be racists, people who
are bad apples in a good barrel and should
be admonished. But what if the barrel it-
self is rotting? Racism is rarely presented
as a time-dishonored cornerstone of any
hierarchical social system, including ours,
whereby poor, powerless people can be
whipped into hatreds against other poor
powerless people, and even made to kill
each other, all for the ultimate benefit of
the rich and powerful.
An underclass of people with a different
physical appearance provides a pool of
people to do low paid menial labor; a pool
of unemployed that depress wages, a pool
of people who can be conscripted in dis-
proportionate numbers into the army to
fight poor people elsewhere, a poll of
people upon whom the problems of soci-
ety can be blamed. There is much, much
more to be said about the historical
collective uses of racism, but the discus-
sion here is almost always focused on
whether so-and-so individually dislikes
people with dark skin.
There is a repeating pattern of individu-
alism gone wild here: tenured professors
have individual freedom to do what they
please; the University faculty is composed
of individuals selected for their individual
superiorities and distinctions; racism is an
individual failing. Where is the sense of
commonality with the human race, of ser-
vice to some notion of the common good?
Where is the sense that we owe something
to others, the others that provide us with
food; clothes, machines, services, and
clean buildings that we enjoy? Don't we
owe something of intellectual or practical
value in exchange for all of that? What
gives us the right to do as we please or,
worse yet, provide our services to the
highest bidder, those representing the most
wealthy and powerful interests in society?
Elitism, chauvinism, militarism, and
racism were not invented at the University
of Michigan. To the extent that they are
here, they are a reflection of the outside
society, just as the research here is funda-
mentally not a product of the whims of
local researchers but of the enticements of
the outside society.
Let's create an environment here which
oppressed people can respect and to which
they will naturally flock. Let's reward sci-
entists and engineers for studying how
science can help people, how it can make
the environment safer, cleaner and more
toxin-free, how it can make lives easier
and more healthful, how it can raise the
level of culture and appreciation of the
beauty of nature, instead of rewarding
them for helping the military industrial
complex create new weapons of mass de-
struction for profit. Let's create a univer-
sity which continually and regularly funds
exciting, diverse, controversial speakers
from all around the world with all point(
of view, to come here and speak and argue)
This is the last of a three part series.

Speak out
EXPRESS YOUR OPPOSITION to
deputization of campus security
officers and the new protest policy
at a rally at the Regents Plaza
(a.k.a. the cube) at 3 pm today.
Sponsored by the Campaign for
a Democratic Campus, the rally
will be followed by a march to the
regents meeting at 4 pm in the
Anderson room of the Michigan
Union.

deep we
that the
well exi
granting
use oftth
tial dang
Gelm
damage
Students
mand th
Gelman
nied.
Atter
from
County
Huron,

Letters to the editor.

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 cannot bring their letters in on disk should include their phone numbers
for verification. Call Cale or Jeff 747-2814.

University
suppresses
dissent
To the Daily:
The Campaign for a Demo-
cratic Campus (CDC) com-
mends the Daily's coverage of
the University administration's
recent efforts to disempower
students. suppress campus dis-
sent, and further control the
non-academic lives of students
and workers. In contrast to the
Ann Arbor News, which, by
barely mentioning the contro-
versy, has clearly become little
more than a cheerleader for the
University, the Daily's cover-
age - especially in the New
Student Edition - has consis-
tently asked tough questions of
University administrators and
sought out interpretations and
comments other than those
provided by these same admin-
istrators.
In addition, the Daily's
editorial staff clearly recognizes
the implications of what the
Regents and the administration
have done by deputizing Public
Safety agents, implementing

not surprising that they have
used every power at their dis-
posal to dissolve democratic
mechanisms in the system,
such as allowing equal input
from students regarding deci-
sions that directly affect them,
and to make it far easier to
threaten and carry out retribu-
tion against students and
workers who disagree with ad-
ministration policies.
As Rackham Student Gov-
ernment's representative on the
CDC, I especially urge gradu-
ate students outraged at their
further disempowerment to ex-
press their displeasure with the
Regents at the CDC rally today
at 3:00 at Regent's Plaza. Be-
cause the University has failed
to address the financial crises
currently affecting many
graduate students as a result of
LSA's ten-term limit and tu-
ition waiver taxation, many
graduate students might soon
find themselves "disrupting"
business as usual at the Uni-
versity - and thus also find
themselves subjectsto the fiat
of an administration that cares
more about its own image and
power than about serving its
students.

a peculiar inconsistency that I
have noted in your paper. I
would say that the Daily prides
itself on being a knee-jerk
ultra-liberal publication. In
fact, sometimes I suspect that
the only requirement for
publication of an article in the
Daily is that it contain at least
one of the terms
"institutionalized racism,
sexism, heterosexism" etc.
(Preferably all of the above!)
Yet at the same time, I notice a
remarkable insensitivity to
cases where the issues of
racism, sexism, and so on, are
at stake.
In particular, I would like to
call your attention to a passage
that appeared in the "Daily
Dictionary" in your orientation
issue (Daily NSE, 9/8/88). In
this passage, the word
"professor" is defined as a
"bearded, middle-aged, male or
female..." I think that even the
most imperceptive reader would

have to agree that there is a
significant difference in th,
connotations obtained when
applying the adjective "bearded"
to a male and to a female.
Speaking of a bearded male
professor suggests ivory-tower
academic detachment; it in-
vokes the stereotypes of the
pipe-puffing theorist in a tweed
jacket with elbow patches.
Speaking of a bearded female
calls to mind at best, the vic-
tim of a hormonal imbalance,
or at worst, a sideshow freak.
To suggest that a woman who
dares to venture into the upper
strata of academia must fall
into one of these categories is a
disservice to the University
community, an insult to the
small but nonetheless signifi-
cant number of female faculty
members, and certainly does
nothing to promote the ideals
the Michigan Daily claims to
espouse. -Gretchen Wright
September 8

Daily Opinion Page letter policy
Due to the volume of mail, the Daily cannot print
all the letters and columns it receives, although an
effort is made to print the majority of material on a

f.A

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