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January 29, 1990 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-01-29

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Page 4

Monday, January 29, 1990

The Michigan Daily

- -

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. C, No. 81 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.
Let the people speak

A stage prop for democracy:


Council had no choice

ON FEBRUARY 25 Nicaraguans will
go to the polls in a national election.
The election is appropriately being seen
as a referendum on the continued lead-
ership of the Sandinista government,
which came to power in 1979 and was
reelected in 1984.
But while international observers
agree that to date the election prepara-
tions have been handled fairly and with
respect for an open democratic system,
Nicaraguans are not going to the polls
without obstacles. The chief resistance
to an outcome which represents the will
of the Nicaraguan people comes from
the United States government and its
agents, the contra rebels.
Through Congress, the CIA, the Na-
tional Endowment for Democracy and
other agencies, the United States is
spending more than $10 million dollars
to affect the outcome of the elections -
attempting to sway the people away
from the Sandinistas and toward the
right-wing coalition of opponents
called UNO. The strategy has been
conducted on military, economic and
political fronts.
The United States has been working
for 10 years to bring down the Sandin-
istas - a party which represents the
self determination of Nicaraguans and,
subsequently, a threat to the exploita-
tive interests of U.S. multinational cor-
porations and U.S. economic domi-
nance of Central America. When it be-
came clear that the U.S.-created and led
surrogate force, the contras, could not
achieve a military victory, the strategy
shifted toward an economic war. The
Reagan administration imposed an eco-
nomic embargo on Nicaragua which
cut off the nation's chief export market
and severely hampered efforts to de-
velop a healthy balance of international
The costs of the war and the effects
of the boycott have resulted in the col-
lapse of the Nicaraguan economy.
Now the Bush administration is at- -
tempting to coerce Nicaraguans to
abandon the government which
brought land, literacy and health care to
hundreds of thousands of rural peas-
ants by offering a threat: Choose UNO
or go under. Bush has announced that
the result of the elections - not
whether or not the elections are fair,
but whether or not the U.S.-backed
party wins - will determine the future
of the embargo and the war.
Above ground, then, the United
States is taking an open stand - on

behalf of Nicaraguans - in favor of
the UNO party. The $10 million the
United States has spent on the elections
has gone for everything from building
video studios to produce commercials
for UNO, to funding La Prensa, the
opposition newspaper, to giving toast-
ers and other scarce appliances to vol-
unteers for the opposition campaign.
But underneath these overt actions
lies the constant threat of further mili-
tary and economic action against the
country. In 1984 Nicaragua held na-
tional elections in which the Sandinista
party ran against a wide range of op-
position candidates, both to the left and
the right of Daniel Ortega and the San-
dinistas. The Sandinistas won a signif-
icant but not completely overwhelming
majority - more than 60 percent of the
popular vote - in elections which
were declared by countless international
observers to be an exemplary model of
freedom and fairness. The United
States cried foul and declared - alone
in the world - that the elections were
a fraud.
Given the new Panamanian prece-
dent, and the history of U.S. support
for military overthrow of the Sandin-
istas, the threat of military intervention
if the UNO party doesn't win is being
taken very seriously in Nicaragua.
Although this threat alone may con-
vince some people to vote for UNO,
the majority of Nicaraguans continue tc
express support for the Sandinistas.
According to some reports, after the
invasion of Panama Nicaraguans have
become more mobilized than ever to
resist U.S. intervention.
The Nicaraguan people have shown
admirable courage in their continued
support for the Sandinista government,
while recognizing that the govern-
ment's progressive policies have
brought on the wrath of Uncle Sam.
And they show every indication of be-
ing prepared to support their govern-
ment again next month.
While the elections represent a refer-
endum on Sandinista leadership, the
real test will be in the reaction of the
United States - and that is dependent
to a large degree on the action of U.S.
citizens who know and understand the
Nicaraguan situation. A delegation
from Ann Arbor will be among thou-
sands of international observers. Stu-
dents should take the opportunity that
this group and others offer to learn
about the reality of Nicaragua, and the
tragedy of U.S. policy toward the its

By Jonathan Rose
In its latest battle against protest and
civil liberties in the nation's universities,
the Duderstadt administration has snuffed
out University Council. The Council
might have been described as a little
flicker of democracy, but such a descrip-
tion would have been optimistic. Univer-
sity Council, a group of students, profes-
sors and administrators, had been formally
charged with the power to produce rules of
behavior and enforcement mechanisms.
But it was constantly reminded that it was
externally "mandated" to fine tune the
Administration's pre-existing plan for
kangaroo court administrative trials for
"nonacademic conduct," including acts of
protest and speech.
The democratic form of legislation-draft-
ing was only a stage prop, just as the due
process in the Code hearings would be.
Students on the Council realized this.
Physics professor Jens Zorn, former 'U'
Council faculty chairperson, wrote (Daily,
1/23/90) of the Council's failure to get its
constituents to approve rules for a Univer-
sity community. "Perhaps the Council
can be reconstituted," Zorn wrote, "under
different principles of operation." The
statement is made as if the years of student
opposition to administrative codes was not
genuine. It denies the possibility of no
code as a legitimate outcome of the Coun-
cil's work.
Students on the Council were faced with
the threat that "If you don't pass what we
want we'll pass something worse," and
students in positions of pretend power -
but relative powerlessness - can easily
succumb, feeling that they saved what
could be saved.
Student attempts to block Code
Several one-year generations of students
served on the Council. Most of them were
philosophically opposed to any codes of
non-academic conduct. The students pre-
sented various approaches, including at-
tempting to weaken the damage to civil
liberties with a set of procedural guaran-
tees such as open hearings and right to
counsel. (Neither protection survived into
the present Codes.) The students, encour-
aged by MSA, also presented a bold at-
tempt to pass an alternative to the Code
which would not use administrative trials.
But the University was resolute in its
plan to refuse benign alternatives to the
To understand the Code, one needs a ba-
sic understanding of the "formal" and
"informal" legal system as they apply to
offensive conduct.
The "formal" legal system already ad-
dresses nonacademic wrongful behavior
that would be addressed by various ver-
sions of the Code. Such conduct includes
violent behavior, property damage, cases
of serious harassment, and cases of Ghan-
dian civil disobedience involving trespass.
Formal legal options available to those
affected or perceiving themselves to be af-
fected by these conducts include suit for
damages, injunction, criminal prosecution,
eviction, and civil commitment to a men-
tal hospital.
In the "informal" legal system, most
cases are resolved by consent, either before
a case is ever started or at any time during
its pendency.
The balance of power
While there is a need for continual refin-
ing of laws and for increasing access to le-
gal information and help, there is no need
to create separate private administrative
law systems - these are dangerous to the
balance of power and civil liberties. Under
the public formal legal system, the bal-
ance of power is at least relatively intact.


A University official may cause a protester
to be charged with trespass, but the jury
and sentencing judge are not directly under
the University's thumb. In a Code hear-
ing, the Code itself, the implementation
of it, the interpretation of it, and amend-
ments to it, are controlled by a private in-
terest group - the administration of the
Decisions over whether to admit evi-
dence seized in an illegal search are not
controlled by means competent to deter il-
legal searches, but are determined by the
same ragtag panel that ultimately decides
the fact of the alleged offense. This de-
stroys the evidenciary exclusionary rule
that might otherwise deter random police
Random searches are not only a theoret-
ical risk. A University housing official at
a Rackham Auditorium debate over the
Code in 1984 promoted random dorm
searches, saying that they would have pre-
vented the Bursley murders occurring a few
years earlier. (A deranged student killed
two other students with a gun which
might have been found in a random
search). The audience booed. This country
has long ago chosen the risk of random
crime over the risk of random police
Adding insult to injury, the University
administration now controls, (over the ve-
hement resistance of student government)
armed police, responsible to the adminis-
trators and not to the democracy. These
police and the network of low level admin-
istrators who work with them may at any
time roam through the campus and bring
intimidation or charges against students
for various real or fanciful infractions in-
cluding acts of protest.
No Code
Andrew Boyd, a co-founder of the orga-
nization "No Code" in 1983, referred to the
Code as "a tool of intimidation." The ad-
ministrators' principal purpose for a Code
seems to have been just that, and to create
a deterrent to protest stronger than that
provided in the civil courts. University
Vice President Henry Johnson, endorsing
the Code in 1983, said that the University
wants the Code "even if we never use it."
The implication seemed to be that the
Administration would settle cases in the
hall for more serious punishment if there
were a Code, or that behavior that is not
deterred would be deterred. Ben Cooper, a
former University Council student, replied
that, "it is the possibility of chilling dis-
sent that will chill dissent."
"Scholars Against the Escalating Dan-
gers of the Far Right" wrote, in an ad in
the New York Times on November 2,
1984, of the "military industrial complex"
intruding "more and more into our cam-
puses," and of the "scent of fascism in the
air." At the University, the principal dam-
age done by protest is not to people or lab
equipment, which are usually meticu-
lously protected from harassment by the
protesters. The principal damage to the
University is the exposure to the press of
whatever is protested. Given the millions
of dollars in military research funds spent
here, and the salaries these funds generate,
the motive to prevent embarrassing protest
is great, and it appears that it is great
enough for the University to create a re-
pressive milieu.
The push for administratively-controlled
conduct codes has taken different turns, but
they always include a certain amount of
coercion and manipulation. The adminis-
trators first tried to sell the codes by say-
ing they were necessary to prevent rape,
murder and arson. They cited the case of an
alleged arsonist on the loose. But it turned
out that the arsonist was on the loose for

one reason: he or she was unidentified. A
Code would not matter. The student body
did not buy this excuse for a Code, and
voted in numerous annual campus elec-
tions either to have no code, or to have no
code that was not approved in its written
form by the student body.
Failing in its effort to sell the Code to
prevent violence, the University argued
that it was a "special milieu" or a "family"
requiring special rules. The University is
not a family, but a community of dis-
parate views. A "family" approach to a
large community implies a paternalism
inherent in attempts to homogenize what
is not homogeneous. The student commu-*
nity did not adopt the "milieu" argument.
Is racist speech a right?
In 1987, two students aired some racist
jokes on a tiny campus radio station. The
community suffered grief and the incident
was broadcast around the world. Anti-racist
groups gained strength and momentum.
The public was educated about racism and
racism was on everyone's mind. Construc-
tive demands for increased Black enroll-
ment and mandatory classes on racism
were made and promoted. The two students
also felt the grief and offered self-educa-
tion, and community involvement in the
healing. Their views have since matured
humanly, but in the meantime they were
held out to dry in the press for the inci-
The incident taught us that the First
Amendment cures its own abuse. The
right to sharply criticize wicked speech is
a far better protector than the right to cen-
sor it. For the censorship itself creates an
immediate set of dilemmas. What is
wicked speech is not easily defined. The
most enlightened among us are not likely
to be the censors. Censorship would grow
beyond our worst fears once allowed.
Those in control would be the censors, and
we would risk censorship of criticism of
the government or its policies. The slope
is slippery, steep, and sure.
Yet in the wake of the racist jokes, the
University found some support for the
worst of all Codes, a code against harass-
ing speech and a code against protest. En-
dorsement of the codes by some of the tra-
ditional victims of verbal harassment was
an error, like shooting a hockey puck into
your own net. These endorsers were ma-
nipulated in the old ways, by being told
that they had no choice but to fine tune
the repression that was offered. Increased
Black enrollment and a mandatory course
were not offered.
One student, speaking to a "Presidential
Commission" appointed to refine the ha-
rassment code, of which he was a member,
said to the Commission members: "The
President (Duderstadt) said we're gonna
have a Code whether you all like it or
not. So be realistic, Otherwise we're
gonna sit here meeting after meeting de-
bating ideology."
The Codes will not in the long run re-
duce racism or homophobic speech but
will increase intimidation, decrease politi-
cal organizing, and will divert us from bet-
ter methods of reducing racism, homopho-
bia, sexism, and other societal ills. The
Codes, at best wolf-in-sheep's clothing,
should be continually fought by students,
faculty and civil-liberties-loving alumni.
Protest and civil disobedience do not
thrive in a milieu in which homogeneity
is enforced. While protesters of the present
speak to a mixed audience, time honors
rights gained by protesters of the past. I
wonder whether Rosa Parks would have
protested discriminatory bus seating if she
were facing loss of a career rather than a
trip to the police station.

Say no to drug-testing

THIS MONTH the president's commis-
sion of the National Collegiate Athletic
Association (NCAA) passed by a vote
of 569-111 Proposition 53. The
proposition received the most support
of any motion at the convention.
Prop 53 institutes mandatory, year-
round drug testing for all Division I
schools. The testing is designed to
catch users of steroids and steroid-
masking drugs.
Steroids were regularly given to
players by coaches until the mid-70s,
in order to enhance players' size and
performance potential. They are now
.known to create health problems in-
cluding increased heart rate and in-
creased risk of heart attack.
Although the use of steroids and
other "performance enhancing" drugs
in college athletics is by no means de-
sirable, the route which the NCAA has
chosen to deal with the problem is not
Mandatory drug testing is a violation
of privacy, and constitutes an illegal
Prop 53 further institutionalizes the
reality that student-athletes are treated
as nothing more than the property of
universities and the NCAA. Every

class requirements.
The majority of players in the
money-making sports -'football and
basketball - are people of color. At
most universities student-athletes of
color make up a disproportionate num-
ber of the university's total student of
color population. Prop 53 subjects
these students to a more rigorous set of
standards than the student body at
If student-athletes were not so easily
isolated - if university administrations
didn't already have the athletes under
their collective thumb - drug-testing
would never be allowed. Universities
could and would not ever consider
running mandatory drug-testing on
their entire student populations, which
are largely white.
The NCAA as usual is trying to walk
in the footsteps of the NFL. The NFL
has drug-tests, therefore the NCAA
must have drug-tests. However, if the
use of drug-testing in the NFL is to
serve as a true example, then the
NCAA drug-testing plan will be selec-
tively enforced.
Several Black NFL players are
charging the NFL with selective penal-

Jonathan Rose is a Michigan alumnus and
former director of Student Legal Ser-

,---, _


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