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October 24, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-10-24

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C

OPINION
Tuesday, October 24, 1989

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

MSA President attacks the Peace and Justice Commission:
Support student solidarity

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor MI 48109

Vol. C, No. 35

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, anifletters do not necessqrily represent the opinion
of the Daily.

Should you already be on rent strike?

Fight your landlord

NEED THE rent to make the re-
pairs."
"You saw what it looked like before
ypu signed the lease."
"I'm taking a loss on this place as it
These are the kinds of excuses land-
lords use to convince tenants that re-
pairs and maintenance are unnecessary,
impossible, or must be delayed indef-
initely. Even more astounding is that
many tenants actually believe that the
landlord is not responsible for mainte-
nance short of a major catastrophe.
The excuses work in spite of the
facts. Of the 48 buildings inspected by
the City of Ann Arbor Housing Bureau
during July and August 1989, only 13
passed. (Statistics from the Housing
Bureau Report on multiple occupancy
and rooming dwellings.)
Moreover, this is a small part of the
actual buildings needing repairs just to
meet the housing code. The city hous-
ing inspectors are lenient and for the
most part cite only blatant violations.
Out of 76 complaints in the same two
months the city issued only 18 tickets.
Cleaning which still has not been
completed, peeling paint, leaky faucets,
loose or non-locking windows, drains
which don't drain, appliances or fur-
nishings in poor condition - these
constitute routine maintenance which a
landlord should take care of. The best
procedure is to write a letter explaining
the problem and what should be done
to fix it.
If this does not solve the problem
then then tenants have several choices.
The first is to repair and deduct; tenants
can make the necessary repairs them-
selves or pay someone else to do it and
deduct the cost (including the fair mar-
ket value of the labor) from the rent. If
the landlord objects, he or she should
be presented with copies of the letter
requesting repair. The money cannot be
deducted from the security deposit
since it was required to keep the
dwelling in tenantable condition.

The alternative, if the tenants do not
want to make the repairs or do not have
time, is to go on rent strike. It is legal
in Ann Arbor to withold rent if needed
repairs have not been made in a reason-
able time. The tenants should pay their
rent into a separate savings account and
inform the landlord in writing of their
intention to pay rent into this escrow
account until all repairs have been
made. Again, the landlord cannot con-
fiscate the security deposit because the
money in the account is disputed
funds, not unpaid rent. In general, the
more serious the problem the quicker it
should be repaired. No heat in the
winter is very serious and tenants in
this situation should not be paying rent.
Ann Arbor has a special weatheriza-
tion ordinance called WARM to protect
tenants who pay their own heat bill.
Tenants who pay their own heat are
entitled to weatherstripping and caulk-
ing and attic insulation. Even though
WARM was passed in 1985, many
houses still do not have adequate
weatherizing.
Everyone has a right to clean,
tenantable housing in good condition.
This cause is advanced when student-
tenants, however transitory, stand up
for their rights and insist that the land-
lords provide fair housing for fair rent.

By Ingrid Fey
Last Friday afternoon the Michigan Stu-
dent Assembly (MSA) Peace and Justice
Commission found out that MSA Presi-
dent Aaron Williams was in the process of
petitioning for a referendum to appear on
the November MSA elections ballot, to
ask students to vote whether or not they
wish to see the Peace and Justice Com-
mission continue as part of MSA.
Although Williams failed to collect the
necessary number of signatures,the action
requires an analysis of his motives and
tactics.
While Williams has long made it
known that he disapproves of the Com-
mission, the consistent support which the
majority of representatives in the Assem-
bly has given to the Commission has
driven him to seek its elimination through
deceptive and underhanded political tactics.
Not only did he begin the circulation of
these petitions without notifying a single
Peace and Justice Commission member,
but he bases his arguments on blatant dis-
tortions of the truth.
Williams wrote (on MTS, Oct. 19,
1989), "The only purpose for the PEACE
& JUSTICE Commission is to work on
issues which concern El Salvador,
Nicaragua, or other third world countries.
Whatahave they done recently? They
sponsored trips to both El Salvador and to
the West Bank. However, they used your
money which is paid to MSA to do
this..."
First of all, the purpose of the Peace and
Justice Commission is to educate students
at the University of Michigan about issues
of peace and justice. In the past such is-
sues have included military research on
campus, apartheid, the controversy sur-
rounding a code of non-academic behavior,
women's issues, and the California grape
boycott - all this in addition to the for-
mation of a sister university relationship
with the University of El Salvador and is-
sues dealing with the "Third World."
Contrary to Williams' implications,
the Peace and Justice Commission does
not send any of "your money" to support
events or groups outside of the University.
All of the Commission's budget goes into
sponsoring films, speakers, panel discus-

sions, workshops, and other educational
events which directly benefit students on
this campus. All material and financial aid
which the commission sent to various
groups was raised specifically for those
purposes through benefit dances, residence
hall material aid campaigns and the like.
Williams moves beyond simple distor-
tion of truth to actual lying when he im-
plies that the Peace and Justice Commis-
sion independently sponsored "trips" to El
Salvador and to the West Bank using
"your money which is paid to MSA."
While the Commission did present pro-
posals for these student delegations, it had
no control over the allocation of funds.
The entire student assembly voted to fund
these fact-finding missions from the MSA
budget and not from the Peace and Justice
Commission's own budget.. Here

This division also ignores the concerns:
which unite students on this and other,
campuses and require collaboration for
their resolution. Thus, Williams will not
endorse providing solidarity for students
suffering repression in another country,
when there are already "so many problems
on this campus which need to be ad-
dressed" (MTS 10/19) -even when those
students are being killed for trying to
solve similar problems in their own coun-
tries.
The Peace and Justice Commission ded-
icates itself to emphasizing both the or-I
ganic links between student groups on
campus and elsewhere and the inseparabil-
ity of many campus issues from those
important within a larger social context.
This year we are planning a film series
which will attempt to illustrate these con-

0

'Williams will not endorse providing solidarity for students
suffering repression in another country when there are al-
ready "so many problems on this campus which need to be ad-
dressed" (MTS 10/19) even when those students are being
killed for trying to solve similar problems in their own coun-
tries.'

Williams deliberately misrepresents facts
in order to slander the Peace and Justice
Commission, a commission which aims
its projects at the students on this campus.
Williams' concerted effort to get rid of
the Peace and Justice Commission is not
simply a part of his push towards "fiscal
responsibility." It also reveals his desire to
prevent the Commission from organizing
events on campus; events which he does
not view as pertaining to students because
they do not reflect his own personal polit-
ical priorities.
Williams consistently attempts to im-
pose these personal priorities on others by
classifying issues as "on-campus" and
"off-campus" - categories which are both
artificial and discriminatory. Such a divi-
sion ignores the interests of minority and
women's groups, which, because of both
the nature of the oppression they face and
the broad changes which they seek to cre-
ate within society, cannot be confined
simply within the perimeters of the Uni-
versity campus.

nections by covering such themes as
racism, military spending, the environ-
ment, and sexism. We are also planning a,
week of speakers, workshops, theater pre-
sentations, and films focusing on the rela-
tionship between art and social change: 4
This event will provide a forum for a
broad coalition of student organizations
while educating students about the way in
which art may contribute to movements
for social change.
The Peace and Justice Commission does
not question the legality of Williams' ac-
tion, for he has every right to petition for
a referendum. But, even though he did not
succeed in securing the 1,000 signatures'
needed to place a referendum on the :
November ballot, the Peace and Justice
Commission continues to question both
the secretive way in which he planned the
petition and the distortions of truth he
employed to justify this action.
Ingrid Fey is the Chair of the Peace and
Justice Commission.

Delegation to El Salvador serves important function:
Broaden stdnorizons"

HUD's unjust return

HE DEPARTMENT of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) has been
Pocked by one scandal after another for
the past year.
While federal funds have been
slashed, senators have been using fed-
eral money to finance the homes of
family members and campaign con-
tributors. More money has been lost
than was demanded by people for the
homeless at the march in Washington
this month. Sam Pierce, the Secretary
of HUD, denies any knowledge of
these affairs. These actions are indica-
live of the United States government's
disregard for the needs of the poor and
its failure to combat institutionalized
discrimination.
; In 1965, President Johnson estab-
lished HUD as a cabinet post. Johnson
declared, "the old, the poor, and the
discriminated against are increasingly
concentrated in city ghettos... leaving
the central city to battle against im-
mense odds." HUD spearheaded the
construction of public housing projects
in cities from New York to Detroit to
Los Angeles.
As ineffective as HUD ever was at
relieving the crises of our inner cities,
over the past eight years, the situation
further deteriorated. HUD, like every
other department that presides over so-
cial programs, has seen a drastic de-
crease in funds. Public housing is now

in a state of decay and homelessness
has been increasing at a frightening
rate. Much of the remaining money has
been lost in innumerable and well-doc-
umented scandals. In 1988 alone, a
federal audit shows a record loss of
$4.2 billion in insurance mortgages to
the Federal Housing Administration of
HUD.
The appointment of Pierce as secre-
tary is a striking example of the patron-
izing attitude that those with political
power have towards the country's un-
der-represented groups. While slashing
funds for public housing, President
Reagan appointed a rich man from a
wealthy suburb of Long Island who,
would supposedly stay in touch with
the needs of HUD's recipients because
he is Black. Pierce's actions at HUD
show the opposite.
While the new Administration has
eliminated numerous HUD programs
as a result of the scandal, they have
proposed no new ones. Bush is also
implementing a drug program that
would allow HUD tenants to be evicted
from their homes if they are suspected
of dealing drugs.
Housing is a right and not a privi-
lege. If our government were serious
about upholding the equality of all
peoples it would guarantee every
homeless person decent housing. Un-
likely.

By Kathryn Savoie
The University of El Salvador (UES) is
a university under siege. On June 26,
1980, the Salvadoran military invaded the
San Salvador campus with tanks and
heavy artillery, murdering 50 students and
ransacking laboratories, libraries and other
equipment. From 1980 to 1984, the uni-
versity was closed, under occupation by
Salvadoran armed forces. On September
13, 1988, a peaceful university protest by
students, faculty and staff to demand that
the government appropriate the university
budget - guaranteed by the Constitution
but never fully appropriated - was at-
tacked by riot squads of the National Po-
lice.
More recently, on May 25,1989, in re-
sponse to a major offensive against the
military garrison of the First Infantry Bat-
talion, soldiers of the First Battalion en-
tered the nearby campus of the University
of El Salvador. They captured several stu-
dent leaders, charging them with organiz-
ing the attack on the military garrison.
And in July of this year, Rene Cruz,
secretary general of the General Associa-
tion of Salvadoran University Students,
was captured and held by military forces.
So what do such brutal events at the
University of El Salvador have to do with
those of us here at the University of
Michigan? First of all, the University of
IL V'A

.i Salvador is our sister University. This
relationship, established in 1988 by the
Michigan Student Assembly's Peace and
Justice Committee, is intended to increase
awareness on campus about the appalling
human rights violations in El Salvador,
and the U.S. role in supporting the gov-
ernment responsible for them.
Were you aware, for example, that the
U.S. government has supplied over $3.6
billion to the government and armed forces
of El Salvador since 1980? Were you
aware that U.S. assistance to El Salvador
last year accounted for more than half of
that countries national budget? Yes, the
United States government, in its infinite
generosity with our tax dollars, supplied
55 percent of El Salvador's national bud-
get. U.S. aid to El Salvador currently
amounts to $1 million per day, and the
majority of that goes, directly or indi-
rectly, to the armed forces.
So, one may argue, this doesn't have
anything to do with students at the Uni-
versity of Michigan. And it certainly isn't
a student issue. I would argue that it is.
We at the University have a responsibility
as U.S. citizens for what is going on in El
Salvador. We are responsible for the fact
that University of El Salvador students
must be more concerned with escaping re-
pression than getting an education.
Guarded at every entrance by soldiers
armed with machine guns and clad in cam-

ouflage - some with their faces camou-
flaged with black, white and brown paint
to escape recognition - the campus looks
more like a military installation than an
institute for higher education.
The United States provides training to
the military, which is responsible for
widespread and systematic violations of
human rights. The United States provides
helicopters, machine guns, and other mili-
tary equipment which the Salvadoran gov-
ernment is using against its own citizens..
Our government expresses concern for
human rights, but continues to fund a
government in El Salvador, lead by the
ARENA party, which, in the words of a 0
former U.S. Ambassador "is a violent
Fascist party modeled after the Nazis."
ARENA, lead by President Alfredo Cris-
tiani, controls all branches of the Salvado-
ran government. Its policy, like that of
previous administrations, is to eliminate
citizen opposition by mass murder and ter-
ror.
We as students of the University of
Michigan should be concerned about what
is going on in El Salvador, not just be-
cause students would be drafted to fight
there if the U.S. involvement escalates.
And not just because UES is our sister
University. We should be concerned be-
cause the actions of our government reflect
on all of us. We are, either through our,
tax dollars or our silence, complicit in the
repression of Salvadorans by their gov-
ernment. We have the right, and therefore
the responsibility, to speak out against
our government. Salvadoran students, liv-
ing in a police state supported by our gov-
ernment, don't have that choice. In speak-.
ing out against the injustices of their gov-
ernment, they risk repression or death.
There are those who oppose MSA funds:
being spent to send delegates to El Sal-
vador. This has nothing to do with us at:
the University, they argue. This is not a:
"campus issue." But we do not come to a:
university community to isolate ourselves:*

* ~ .W L2 ~

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