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March 20, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-20

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OPINION

Page 4

Monday, March 20, 1989

The Michigan Daily

rbe £kbign &UQail
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. IC, No. 115 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All oti' er
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
Protest sham election

0

Clean-up

with PIRGIM

W HAT IF the U.S. military suddenly
started killing Republicans? Everyone
suddenly starts seeing groups of off-
duty soldiers kidnapping prominent
Republicans who are later found dead
with signs of being tortured. Thou-
sands of Republicans are shot dead in
the street. After a while, no powerful
,Republicans are left - they are either
dead, in exile, or in resistance under-
ground - so the killing drops off. If
any organizing among Republicans be-
ins, the organizers are killed. Then
the perpetrators hold a Presidential
election, and - surprise - the
Republicans lose. No one would ac-
cept the validity of this "election."
Yet we are asked by the Bush
Administration and the U.S. press to
accept the validity of yesterday's Sal-
vadoran presidential election when
something quite analogous has hap-
pened there. Over the past 10 years,
the Reagan and Bush administrations
have aligned with the ruling families to
pay for the army to kill their oppo-
nents. Over this time the Salvadoran
army has killed approximately 70,000
people in a country of 5 million
(proportional to 3 million dead
Republicans). Peasants, union
members, priests, an archbishop,
politicians, nuns and other opponents
all died.
As the March 19 elections have ap-
proached, the number of murders by
the army and their death squads has
increased, as documented by interna-
tional human rights groups such as
Amnesty International. The candidate
of the ruling families, Alfredo
Cristiani, is projected to win.
No one can accept yesterday's
"election" as anything but invalid.
And no one will, unless the U.S.
media can present Cristiani, not as a
front for the death squad ARENA party
of El Salvador, but as a "moderate." If
Central Ar
THIS WEEK the following events fo-
cusing on Central America will be pre-
sented by the Latin American Solidarity
Committee and the Peace and Justice
Committee of the Michigan Student
Assembly.
On Tuesday, March 21, a panel
discussion titled "Social Conflict and
Popular Movements in Guatemala" will
take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Anderson
Room of the Michigan Union. Pan-
elists will include Emerina Mendoza,
attorney and member of the Detroit
Guatemala Committee, speaking on
"The American Connection: U.S. In-
terests and Involvement in Guatemala"
Jane Slaughter, staffer at Labor Notes
and co-author of "Choosing Sides:
Unions and the Team Concept,''
speaking on "Development of the La-
bor Movement In Guatemala: Past and
Present;" and John Watanabe, Univer-
sity of Michigan professor of
Anthropology, speaking on "Mayan
Perspectives on Repression and Revo-
lution."
On Wednesday, March 22, a spe-
cial Salvadoran dinner will be prepared
by the Celayas, a Salvadoran refugee
family living in Ann Arbor. A four
dollar donation is requested. After-
wards, Victor Rubio, a representative
of the FMLN/FDR (Farabundo Martf
National Liberation

Front/Revolutionary Democratic Front,
the coalition of guerrilla armies and
their civilian supporters) will speak on
the current situation in El Salvador.
On Thursday, March 23, work-
shops on Central America will be held
from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third floor
of the Michigan League. Workshops
include Puerto Rico; Health Care in

°f=r::.
'" f. .y.}f cif:'..
advr

By Jason Feingold
On March 21 and 22, University stu-
dents will be asked on the MSA ballot to
approve a $2.00 refundable fee to support
the campus non-partisan environmental
and consumer lobby, the Public Interest
Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM).
The policy of funding PIRGIM directly
with a student fee raises some interesting
questions about the role of the student on
our campus, in our community, and
throughout our nation. Do students have a
role in solving the major problems facing
our country? Do students have a right to
decide to fund a group which will represent
them in local, state, and national govern-
ment? And most importantly, what will
happen to our society if we, the brightest
and most able, bury our heads in the sand
and hope our problems will just go away?
How can students make a difference?
How can students acquire the skills and
resources to promote educational and ac-
tion campaigns on issues we care about?
For the last 20 years, concerned students
around the country have worked with
Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs)
to impact our society. What can we ac-
complish? Just last November, PIRGIM
led the campaign to pass the $660 million
Environmental Cleanup Bond, perhaps the
strongest piece of environmental legisla-
tion in Michigan this decade. In 1988,
PIRGIM filed suit against the City of De-
troit to enforce the Clean Water Act in
Michigan. And now, PIRGIM is working
to pass a Comprehensive Cleanup Act to
further protect us from the hazards of poi-
sonous toxic waste.
Jason Feingold is a junior in the college
of Literature, Science and Arts.
Fear of reprisal has real basis:

In the past, PIRGIM lobbied for the 10
cent Bottle Bill (1976). PIRGIM also
lobbied for the Freedom of Information
Act (1974). PIRGIM lobbied to establish
the Michigan Consumer Protection Act
(1974). More recently, PIRGIM lobbied to
pass the Michigan Toxic Right to Know
Act (1986). PIRGIM worked with student
PIRGs across the nation to found the Na-
tional Student Campaign Against Hunger
in 1984. The student PIRGs also estab-
lished the National Student Campaign for
Voter Registration.
What about here on campus? PIRGIM
helped establish the Campus Information
Center in the Union. PIRGIM also helped

lutions of its most serious problems.
PIRGIM works in Lansing, in Washing-
ton, and with other student PIRGs around
the country to provide students with the
resources necessary to advocate solutions
to our problems. And with problems such
as air and water pollution, the solid waste
crisis, local and world hunger, and the need
for consumer rights, can we afford to play
a minor role?
The quest at U. of M. to establish a
student Public Interest Research Group is
not unique. All across the country, stu-
dents who are concerned with what is hap-
pening in our society, what is happening
to our planet, fight to make their voice

6

'Students, privileged to society's entire body of knowledge,
have the right, even the responsibility, to move society to-
wards solutions of its most serious problems.'

Cristiani is pegged with the truth, that
he is the leader of a party that calls for
killing another 100,000 Salvadorans,
the U.S. Congress will cut off the
weapons to the Salvadoran military. If
they knew the truth, U.S. citizens
might object to sending money to Sal-
vadoran murderers that could fund
schools and toxic waste cleanup.
Without U.S. weapons and funds, the
Salvadoran government will collapse,
since naked force is all that has kept it
in power during the 1980's. So the
Bush administration and the media will
describe Cristiani as opposed to the in-
humane tradition of ARENA, and the
election will have proceeded.
Many students outraged at this
travesty of democracy in El Salvador
are meeting for a protest Monday at
4:30 pm in the Kline department store's
parking lot on Ashley between William
and Liberty. The protest is a car
caravan that will include the Ann Arbor
News, the local outlet for the Bush
fantasy. The protestors have made the
choice to resist the Bush
administration's sham election and its
hired guns in Salvador. Please attend.
nerica Week
the Sanctuary Movement; Women in
the Struggle in Central America; Milita-
rization and the Environment; Export
Agriculture and the Crisis in Central
America; Current and Historical Per-
spectives on Panama; and the Debt Cri-
Crisis and Economic Issues in Central
America.
At 2 p.m., a panel discussion on "El
Salvador Today: On the Brink" will
take place in the Michigan League.
Panelists will include Victor Rubio of
the FMLN/FDR; Mike Fischer, of the
Latin American Solidarity Committee;
and a representative of the regional of-
fice of the Committee in Solidarity with
the People of El Salvador (CISPES).
At 7:30 p.m., another panel will dis-
cuss "U.S. Policy in Central America:
In Whose Interest?" Panelists will in-
clude John Vandermeer, University of
Michigan professor of Biology and co-
editor of The Nicaragua Reader; and
David Finkel, editor of Against the
Current magazine.
On Friday, March 24, the movie "El
Norte" will be shown free in the Rack-
ham Amphitheater. The movie presents
the story of two Guatemalan refugees,
a sister and brother, and their journey
to the U.S., the difficulties they en-
counter crossing the border, and the
hardships they face once in the U.S.
The week will conclude on Satur-
day, March 25, with a benefit dance
titled "Rock Down Central America"
with the immensely popular Trinidad
Tripoli Steel Band. Proceeds from the
benefit will go to LASC and humani-
tarian aid projects in Central America.
Tickets am five dollars in advance from
LASC (665-8438) orat other Central
America Awareness Week events, or
eight dollars at the door (sliding scale

to establish SAFEWALK. PIRGIM has
coordinated several student voter registra-
tion drives. Last November, PIRGIM
helped register over 6,200 student voters,
one of the largest single campus registra-
tion drives since 1972. There is no limit
to what students can do if we work to-
gether. And there is no limit to what will
go wrong if students decide to sit back and
wait for solutions to magically appear by
themselves.
Some of the most important social ac-
tion movements in our country's history
have started on college campuses. Stu-
dents, privileged to society's entire body of
knowledge, have the right, even the re-
sponsibility, to move society towards so-

heard. Every Michigan student will have
the opportunity on March 21 and 22 to
vote to fund PIRGIM. How will you
vote? Do students have the right to influ-
ence our society? Can we help solve seri-
ous environmental and consumer prob-
lems? Will you give concerned students
the opportunity to make a difference, the
opportunity to be leaders on campus and
in the community? As everyday con-
sumers of water, air and various other
necessary commodities, how can we afford
not to pay $2.00 to fund one of the
strongest student lobbies in the country? If
you are interested in getting involved with
PIRGIM, please stop by the office at 4109
in the Michigan Union or call there at
668-6683.

I

Econ. dept. stifles

dissent '

By Dean Baker
The recent letter by five economics
graduate students, claiming that there is no
climate of fear impeding free and open
discussion within the economics depart-
ment, requires a response. Several graduate
students this year, and 26 graduate students
last year, cited the existence of such a cli-
mate as a reason for maintaining
anonymity in communications with the
Daily about issues within the department
and the discipline. In the latter case, 28
doctoral students signed a scathing attack
on the conservative and apologetic nature
of the mainstream of the discipline, and
linked this to the underrepresentation of
minorities and women among the depart-
ment's faculty. These students had sound
reason to fear reprisal.
There are many incidents that can be
cited as a basis for such fear. (We have left
out names and other specific references
here to avoid unnecessary embarrassment
to the faculty members involved. If neces-
sary, specific incidents, with names, could
be provided). Several students have been
warned that completing course work in
non-traditional fields, in addition to the
normal number of mainstream fields
would damage their standing on the job
market. Some faculty members have made
inquiries into the politics of graduate stu-
dents, attempting to track down
"Marxists." Students have also been
warned about the danger to their careers
inherent in publicly criticizing faculty
members. There are several cases where
professors have denied or attempted to
Dean Baker recently received his Ph.D.
in economics from the University. This
letter was also signed by 21 economics
graduate students who requested that their
names be withheld for fear of reprisal.

deny teaching positions to students on the
basis of their politics. The occurrence of
such incidents is not uncommon. As a
result, many people who have contem-
plated taking courses in fields outside of
the mainstream have come to believe that
such work would seriously impair their
standing in the program and their
prospects on the job market.
In addition to the occurrence of these
sorts of incidents there are also peculiari-
ties to the procedures within the eco-
nomics department that encourage appre-
hension. Last year a number of graduate
students were sent letters warning that
they would be placed on "inactive status"

the opportunity to rank and comment
confidentially on every student entering
the job market. These comments are then
compiled in an unspecified manner and
made available to potential employers.
Any professor has the opportunity to pass
judgment on a student, even if the profes-
sor has no direct knowledge whatsoever of
the student's work. Students are not only
denied the right to see the comments of
individual professors, but are not even told
of the composite evaluation. This evalua-
tion system provides faculty an additional
opportunity for dealing with dissidents
within the department beyond what would

0

6
'The department maintains a peculiar and probably illegal
means of evaluating graduate students... Students are not only
denied the right to see the comments of individual professors
but are not even told of the composite evaluation.'

if they did not accomplish some unspeci-
fied measure of progress by the end of the
academic year. No explanation of the
meaning of inactive status was included
with the letter. Nor were those who in-
quired about its meaning accurately in-
formed. Only after a group of graduate
students confronted the graduate director at
the time did we find out that inactive sta-
tus meant being removed from the pro-
gram, with the elimination of financial
support. Even then, the information was
obtained only after first having to wade
through what can generously be termed
evasive answers.
This is not the only irregularity within
the economics department. The department
maintains a peculiar and probably illegal
means of evaluating graduate students,
whereby every member of the faculty has

exist through the normal operation of the
"old boys" network.
While this sort of institutional structure
combined with the types of comments de-
scribed here do create a climate of fear fdr
those who consider alternative approacheb
to economics, the letter by our colleague
is correct in saying that the majority of
students do not experience a 'climate of
fear.' Since most students do not consider
challenging the basic ideology within
economics, they have little cause for fea(.
Such a claim would have been equally true
of the Soviet Union during the height of
Stalin's terror in the mid-thirties, where it
was primarily a politically active minority
that had to fear government repression.
This hardly vindicates the economics de-
partment as a place where open discussion
is encouraged.

L t to .he -r

Let both
sides be
heard
To the Dailv:
As members of American-
Arab Anti-Discrimination

debate concerning the Israel-
Palestine conflict are destruc-
tive in that they forward seri-
ous yet questionable allega-
tions and attempt to suppress
alternative political perspec-
tives on fundamental issues
concerning Zionism, Israel, and
Palestinian rights of self-de-
(teminn tinf

the expression of Jewish na-
tional consciousness, this by
itself should not be abridged as
it represents a group's
sociopolitical identification.
Jews, as do all people, have the
right to identify with the na-
tional movement of their
choice. Those who oppose
Zionism, however, oppose its
implementation in the form of
an exclusivist, colonial-settler
regime which by its nature

Semitism, then nearly all
Palestinians are racists! This is
an absurd assertion, but is the
corollary of equating opposi-
tion of Zionism with racism.
Those offended by editorials
should be heard, however, to
ensure that the Daily's editori-
als are sensitive to the feelings
of all groups. There should be
a free and open debate regarding
this and the many other issues
addressed by the Opinion page.

lqq

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