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October 20, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-10-20

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4

OPINION
Thursday, October 20, 1988

Page 4

Yi > n Daily

I

Ube £ibdirigan&dZ
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Waiver benefits

Vol. IC, No. 31

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
T aof the Daily.
The administration should not define discrimination for the community.:
_R

#;

New 'U' policy

ON SEPTEMBER 30, a student filed
the first formal complaint under the
University's discriminatory acts
policy. Last week, the administrator
in charge of enforcing the Univer-
sity's policy, also known as a code,
said she thinks she can resolve the
first case through informal media-
tion. The administration has taken a
positive step with the idea of run-
ping a letter of apology by the code
yiolator in the Daily.
In the last week of September, a
student in a business school class
read a limerick that denigrated al-
leged homosexual acts of Olympic
diver Greg Louganis. A student in
the same class, Mark Chekal,
stepped forward to criticize the per-
son who read the limerick.
Chekal was right to take the ini-
tiative and bring attention to this
problem. It is difficult enough to do
work at the University without
having to endure distracting anti-
gay remarks. By making gays and
lesbians in class uncomfortable,'the
limerick-reader may have interfered
with their education.
In fact, more attention should fo-
cus on the professor in this case. As
limericks are often used to make
barbs against ethnic groups,
women, gays, lesbians and any
easily stereotyped group, the pro-
fessor should have instructed the
students not to bring in such limer-
icks for their assignment. By not
setting the proper tone for assign-
ments, the professor contributes to
the discomfort of the students. Dis-
criminatory discomfort is both un-
necessary and counterproductive to
instruction.
Another consequence of such a
limerick may be to keep gays and
lesbians from coming out in public
which is also discriminatory.
The solution to this kind of dis-
crimination is to publicize and form
a movement against it. The more
Mark Chekals who stand up against
racism, sexism and anti-gay activ-
ity, the more this University will
approach the ideal of equal oppor-
tunity.
However, giving the University
administration the formal power to
decide what racism, sexism and
anti-gay activity is and to punish
perpetrators accordingly is not a
solution. University institutions are
currently a major source of these
problems.
Instead of a code run by the small
portion of the University commu-

nity who are administrators, there
should be a community-run body
that is in charge of handling formal
harassment complaints. Such a
body would recognize that the at-
mosphere here is only as good as
what the students and staff make it.
It would also take the politics of
student versus administration power
struggle out of the issue by giving
students and staff their proportion-
ate representation.
Some people would oppose this
point of view with the argument that
a community-run code is too radi-
cal. They propose that so-called
radicals trust the administration
more.
Politics is not the only problem
with the University making deci-
sions regarding a discriminatory
acts policy. The statistics on the
admissions of women and minori-
ties, both as students and faculty
make it all too clear that the Univer-
sity administration engages in thou-
sands of discriminatory decisions
every year. People who head insti-
tutions such as the University
should not necessarily take a
leadership role in resolving the
problem of discriminatory acts.
Other people would say that a
community-run code on discrimi-
natory behavior is unnecessary be-
cause the administration is capable
of reform. Perhaps with the right
combination of persuasion and
popular demands the University
will change its ways.
The best way that the University
administration could reform itself
on this issue would be to recognize
that it causes a disproportionate
share of the problem. Instead of
engaging students in a power
struggle, the University should lend
its resources and moral support to a
formal but community controlled
body to handle discrimination in the
University community.
Eighteen years ago, students shut
down the University in order to
back up the demand for 10 percent
Black enrollment. Black enrollment
is now 5.4 percent. This demon-
strates that the University is inca-
pable of reforming itself even when
it promises to do so. To handle dis-
criminatory acts, such as the read-
ing of anti-homosexual limericks,
the University administration would
do best to work with and through
the community. It is not capable of
solving the problem of discrimina-
tion by itself.

By Don Demetriades
There appears to be a monster behind
the scenes at the University of Michigan.
It's called the "tuition waiver" for Graduate
Student Teaching and Staff Assistants.
Thus far it 1) incited a near-strike from the
Teaching Assistants in April '87; 2) has
burdened each TA with an absurdly large
federal tax liability; and 3) continues to
drain the University's budget for teaching
needs.
It is easy to blame unrest, taxes, and
budgetary shortages on the Teaching As-
sistants' negotiated right to be relieved of
their tuition responsibility. Such blame,
however, misses its mark. The genuine
culprit for these problems is not the con-
tractual right itself but the method by
which the University is meeting its con-
tractual obligation. What the University
has done is establish a "Tuition waiver
budget" from which each department draws
its allotted number of tuition waivers for
its TAs. The tuition waiver budget in-
creased dramatically in the '88-89 school
year because this is the first year in the
University's history that TAs are relieved
of their entire tuition liability. The bud-
get's size has people worried, and for good
reason. The problems unthinkingly
blamed on the TAs' contractual guarantee
are instead genuinely blamable on the tu-
ition waiver budget.
The budget is real in the sense that it
steals potential funding from graduate stu-
dents who do not teach. A typical tuition
waiver for an out-of-state TA for two
terms is $10,000. That amount could
support another, non-teaching graduate
student for the entire academic term. While
Rackham is desperately looking for re-
sources with which to support graduate
students, the tuition waiver budget is
sucking up a tremendous amount of
potential funding.
It is real in the sense that because of it
departments may be forced to exploit their
TAs in order to satisfy their staffing needs.
A department gets only so much tuition
Don Demetriades is the President of the
Graduate Employees Organization.

no one
the University's budget for teaching needs.
The IRS can then tax the tuition waiver as
an amount of compensation for the-TA's
service. Without the budget, however,
there's no specific amount to tax.

waiver money from the Administration, so
it must use the money prudently. If the
department's teaching needs increase, and
it is apportioned only so many tuition
waivers, then pure budgetary prudence
could force a department to squeeze as
much work out of one tuition waiver as it
would normally receive from two tuition
waivers. This is done by employing one
TA at an excessively large teaching frac-
tion in order to staff a number of sections
normally taught by two TAs with smaller
fractions. Or, instead, to staff the same
number of sections and spend no tuition
waiver money, a department may choose
to hire three or more TAs each with frac-
tions so small they do not receive a tu-

Ultimately, however, the budget is in-
deed unreal, not only because it never
reaches the pocket of a TA, but also be-
cause it misrepresents the nature of what
the TAs gained from bargaining back in
April '87. The existence of a budget, from
which the waiver amount is doled out,
makes it appear that the TA is receiving a
quantitative amount of compensation, no
different in this respect from the TA's
salary. But the amount is not what the

I

'An over-worked TA rarely proceeds quickly with his or her
own studies, and an underworked TA - whose fraction is be-
low quarter-time must pay tuition and health insurance to sur-
vive.'

ition waiver and health benefits (a TA
with a fraction below a quarter-time ap-
pointment does not receive a tuition
waiver and health insurance). Both options
hurt the TA. An over-worked TA rarely
proceeds quickly with his or her own
studies, and an underworked TA - whose
fraction is below quarter-time must pay
tuition and health insurance to survive.
It is real in the sense that it constitutes
a specific and accountable amount of
compensation easily seen and taxable by
the IRS. In response to queries about why
they have assumed the waiver is taxable,
the University and its tax attorney have
claimed and continue to claim that because
the waiver is guaranteed by the contract, it
is unequivocally compensation for services
and therefore taxable. But no amount
whatsoever is guaranteed by the contract,
which reads, "...employees with a one-
quarter or greater employment fraction will
pay no tuition." The taxable compensation
has been created by the existence of a tu-
ition waiver budget. The "taxable" verdict
is uncontroversial once there exists a
waiver regarded as an accountable piece of

Graduate Employees Organization (GEO)
bargained for and finally won. The TAs
instead acquired the right to be relieved of
their tuition responsibility, no different
from other rights guaranteed by the con-
tract. TAs have the right to grieve when
the contract is violated; the right to office
space and telephone access; the right to
review records pertaining exclusively to
their employment. They also have a right
to be relieved of their tuition responsibil-
ity. It took fourteen years for the Univer-
sity to finally recognize this right; but
now that it's been recognized we may see
another fourteen years pass before the
University corrects its accounting method
and stopstreating our right as ifit were a
form of quantitative compensation.
The tuition waiver budget, far from the
least harmful, harms everyone and benefits
no one.
Complaints about the TAs' right to be
freed of their tuition liability are ill-
founded The real monster in this game is
the tuition budget.

i

............ .............. ......
..................
MAL,
. .. .....

41

Abortion
is more
humane
To the Daily:
In response to Steve Mor-
row's letter (Daily 10/17/88)
regarding Proposal A and
specifically his phrases: "I
refuse to let my tax dollars pay
for it (medicaid abortion)
...don't make me pay for
someone else's lack of disci-
pline. Pregnancy has never
been an illness."
I must point out some errors
in his assumptions. An abor-
tion costs, at the top of the
scale, when done within the
first trimester, $350.00. How
much does the pregnancy cost?
Parental care, hospital costs,
doctors fees can be upwards of
$3,000.00. And this is only
the beginning. If someone is
on medicare, chances are that
they may require other welfare
dollars (your tax dollars, Mr.
Morrow) in some cases, for
much of their lives. A good
Republican cost-benefit analy-
sis would see the abortion as a
much cheaper alternative.
Mr. Morrow, you support a
very anti-female position when
you wrote "sexual negligence"
and "childbirth as illness."
Maybe the woman used
contraceptives and they did not
work, maybe she was cajoled
or forced into having sex. Date
rape is usually unreported.
(Your .5% of abortions because
of rape does not address this
fact of our sexist, male-
supremist, classist culture)
Possibly, she went into sex
not thinking about some of the
consequences. But did her part-
neOr??

had to fight very hard for ma-
ternity leave and we usually go
to HOSPITALS for births.
Furthermore, many women
have DIED during childbirth!
How dare you consider a
woman's reproductive func-
tions outside of basic health
care. If doctors thought the
same way, they'd be out of
work (women make up the
majority of hospital income,
partly due to the industrialized
world's removal of childbirth
to the hospital setting).
Your last phrase reads: "...
today's sexual values may be
becoming [an illness]." Do not
push your values down our
throats or up our uteruses.
Abortions were done in middle
ages, and probably before.
Also, what about the .5%?
Why don't you get rapedand
then be forced to bear a child
you do not want before you go
telling other what to do.
-Natalka Baczynskyj
October 18
Too much
opinion in
Arts story
To the Daily:
Over the past few weeks, the
record reviews in the Arts sec-
tion have deteriorated from
criticism of music to reader-
abuse, pretentious editorializa-
tion, and crude statement. The
review section is currently
dominated by the inadequate
writing of Brian Berger, and the
credibility of the entire staff is

when he uses his own column
as a record ad every day.
Mr. Berger strays from the
subject of the review in order
to slam the bands he dislikes.
He uses unnecessarily crude
terminology to make claims
about the quality of these
groups and the people who like
them. He gives his smug criti-
cism in passing without a sin-
gle statement to back up such
an opinion. He has literally
called people "idiots" for buy-
ing the albums or going to the
concerts of groups that he
doesn't approve of.
Mr. Berger takes advantage
of his column space to express
his hipper-than-thou opinions.
His job is to review records,
not to preach. If The Daily is
going to print columns by Mr.
Berger which merely list his
favorite bands and show his oh-
so-cool mastering of the lingo,
then they should be labeled as
such. If his column is going to
spout personal feelings on the
state of society, then it belongs
on the Opinion page.
To illustrate, note Mr.
Berger's review of the newest
Suicidal Tendencies album
(Daily, 10/19/88). His article
was one half editorial, one third
rude abuse of the album, and
one third list of albums he
prefers. At no time does he
give a just reason for disliking
t&e album. His editorialization
on the injusticerof the laws
against skateboarding present
precisely the negative view of
skaters that got the law passed
in the first place. He does his
cause much more damage than
good. His attempt at humor by
suggesting the band members
take their name to heart is pa-
thetic. Suicide just isn't funny.
I suavestTherDaiv rid tsel~f

Maybe
writer, not
play, tired

To the Daily:
Marisa Anaya, who are
you?? And how did you ever
get to write an article for the
Michigan Daily??
Your review of A Chorus
Line, (Daily, 10/14/88) and
your headline, "Chorus Line
Delivers Weak Kicks," was, in
itself, the weakest review I've
ever read. And how can anyone,
accurately, write a review after
seeing a dress rehearsal?
You claim the performers
had low-energy, and certain
performers were tired and apa-
thetic. Did you forget that this
was a rehearsal and the actors
were still getting used to the
technical aspects of the show
(lighting, sound, costumes,
etc.)? Did you forget that those
performers have been working
for five weeks for a "Thursday"
opening, not a "Wednesday"
preview? Also, none of the
performers knew there was a
critic (if that's what you call
yourself) in the house during
that rehearsal.
Fortunately the city of Ann
Arbor has better taste than you
do, for this show is in such
demand that it had to extend its
four day run to six days. (The
first time in years this has
happened to a student show at
the University of Michigan.)

i

For those of you who want
to read an accurate review,
check out the Ann Arbor News
(10/14/88) and its headline
about this show: "Youthful
Cast Adds Exuberance to 'A
Chorus Line."'

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