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September 06, 1990 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-06

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 6, 1990 - Page 3
Fie dollar finei
meant freedom
7tjutsay 'yesT

by Jesse Walker
There is something downright
un-American about the war on
marijuana. Pot is, after all, the
nation's number one cash crop, and
it has met the test of the marketplace
many times, and under the most
stringent of circumstances.
Entrepreneurs have made millions
selling it, in what ought to be the
apotheosis of free market success
So why, then, is the government
impounding the houses and cars of
people caught with the most
piddling amounts of it? Why the
long prison sentences? Why the
barrage of propaganda? Don't the
politicians know a potential sound-
bite when they see one? Things
would be so much easier if the
Bushes and Jernigans of the world
would see dealers as a booming
industry to court for votes, rather
than as a criminal subculture to be

10 Ann Arbor skateboarding is a city code violation in some areas. Voters
is last spring's elections weren't content with just hassling
skateboarders, though, they changed marijuana tines as well.

'Graduate employees gain
respect with organization

by The Graduate
Employees Organization
The Graduate Employees Organi-
jation (GEO) is the union for Gradu-
ate Student Teaching and Staff As-
sistants at the University of Michi-
gan. GEO is currently gearing up for
'fall term with a membership drive,
and is rebuilding a steward's network
by esta1lishing strong union contact
with each department.
The time is right for departmental
organizing, since contract negotia-
tions begin in January 1990. Initial
*bargaining proposals will be sent to
'the University at the end of fall
Early in the summer, GEO had a
membership meeting to explore bar-
igaining priorities. GEO plans to
send out a survey to find out how
:the membership feels about issues
like the following: an end to the
ten-term rule; salary increases; giv-
ing out-of-state students in-state tu-
*jtion rates; campus child care; main-
taining current health benefits; and
imiting class size.
If Graduate Student Assistants
;want to get these gains for them-
selves and for future graduate stu-
dents it's time to organize and get
,ready to fight for them.
Respect is a key issue for GSAs.
'Two years ago, the University insti-
tuted a new policy, the "ten-term
*rule," which cuts off TA funding
after ten terms. GSAs at the end of
this limit are cut off not only from
financial resources, but in some de-
partments, from access to phones
and desk space. Their names are put

on the bottoms of lists for teaching
appointments and they are given the
lowest priority for any kind of fund-
Instead of gaining respect for
their accumulated experience in
teaching and in their own academic
progress, graduate students are now
being treated like dirt. Such a policy
places extraordinary stresses on stu-
dents without other means of finan-
cial support and is particularly hard-
hitting for women, minority and
low-income students.
GEO has filed an unfair labor
practice against the University be-
cause of the ten-term rule and has
been waiting for a decision for al-
most a year.
But GSAs can't afford to wait
any longer.
While the courts have played a
crucial role in establishing the
Union, it is really our own willing-
ness to take risks and to organize
that makes for real changes in our
working conditions or in the Univer-
sity as a whole. The University will
not give in to any bargaining de-
mands unless they see that GSAs are
willing to back up the demands with
action. Conversely, if GSAs are
strongly organized, there are few de-
mands that they can't achieve.
While contract negotiations usu-
ally renew interest in the Union, the
Union has a function that is even
more important: contract enforce-
ment and filing grievances. The
University frequently violates the
contract by assigning too much
work for too low a fraction of teach-

ing to graduate work.
Many stories filter in to GEO
about GSAs who are doing much
more work than their fraction calls
for, yet few GSAs are currently fil-
ing grievances. GEO is working to
set up a steward system so that the
Union is more accessible to those
students who might face such a
teaching burden.
But GSAs face the reality of the
University's patronage system,
which is set up to make us afraid of
filing grievances because Depart-
ments can easily deny future teach-
ing or grading assignments as retri-
bution. This does not mean that
grievances cannot be won. GEO has
helped TAs win many such
grievances over the years. We need
to realize that by our own inaction
we are condemning generation after
generation of GSAs to teach 30
hours a week for a .40 fraction. We
may even be paving the way for
work expectations to increase.
If the Union is strong enough,
we can achieve job security so that
grievances could be filed without
fears of retribution. Until then,
GSAs can protect themselves by or-
ganizing groups of students to sup-
port each other in filing similar
GSAs are not only interested in
these issues, though. Through the
Union, we can try to affect the bal-
ance of power in this University.
Eighteen hundred teaching assistants
teach about 40% of the class time at
this University, but they have only
See GEO, Page 8

wiped off the face of the map. I
mean, if the contras - no strangers
to drug dealing themselves - can be
the moral equivalent of our founding
fathers, why not America's biggest
cottage industry?
Well, it doesn't look like it's
going to happen. If you're a five-
year-old unwilling to sit still for six
hours, the government can label you
"hyperactive" and legally force you
to take brain-debilitating chemicals,
but if you're just an average Joe who
decides on your own to smoke a
little grass every now and then, you
are, it would appear, more pernicious
than all the corrupt Savings & Loan
institutions in the world.
Even Ann Arbor, once a nearly
solitary voice cf reason in the drug
debate, seems to have jumped on the
crusaders' bandwagon. Until
recently, the penalty for possession
of marijuana within the city limits
was a mere $5 ticket. But following
a close election on April 2, the
voting citizens of Ann Arbor elected
to raise the fine to $25 for the first
offence, $50 for the second, and not
less than $100 for the third.
The campaign was marked by a
number of vicious tactics on the
anti-free choice side, from arranging
for City Council to vote on putting
the resolution on the ballot while
most students were on Christmas
vacation, to attempting to prevent
the National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws from
holding a rally on the Diag. And, in
the end, the authoritarians won.
The question remains,however.
Why should the pot law be changed?
Had marijuana use increased since
the fine was instituted in the early
seventies? No, it hadn't. Were
criminals running "pot houses" and
neighborhoods being destroyed? No,
drug laws cause that, not drugs. Was
it serving as a "gateway drug"? No,
no more than it ever had. Then why
change it?
Because "it sends the wrong
message," says Ann Arbor Mayor
It sends the wrong message. One
might argue that it sends a
considerably worse message to have
policemen more concerned with
harassing the homeless than with
preventing violent crime, or to hand
out generous subsidies to established
business interests while trying to
regulate street vendors out of
existence, but Jernigan and his ilk
would disagree. The message of the
$5 fine would appear to be far more
What could this message be?
So far-as I can determine, it is
that it is possible to make your own
decisions about what you can put
into your own body, without the
paternalistic intervention of any
outside force. This, it would appear,

Ann Arbor has a reputation for issuing expensive parking tickets to
anyone who dares to leave their car unattended. The new marijuana
fines will also help to fill the city's coffers.

is what the powers. that be do not
want people to think.
As Thomas Szasz once said,
paraphrasing Voltaire, "I may
disagree with what you take, but I
will defend to the death your right to
take it." To call for freedom of
choice in the matter of marijuana is
not to advocate using anything -
except your brain. Decriminalization

of drugs means allowing people to
make their own decisions.
And clamping down, as Messeurs
Bush, Bennett, and Jernigan ought to
realize, means usurping rational
choice, the bedrock of freedom.
Walker is a Residential College ju-
nior and co-host of "Grey Matters"
on campus radio station WCBN.

A note regarding this section:
Originally it was my intent for this section to
be, at least partially, a point and counterpoint
forum where important campus issues would be
debated by groups with opposing opinions.
Unfortunately, many groups were either not able
to write articles this summer, or, diaspointingly,
failed to complete their article after agreeing to
do so.
I hope that no person or group feels cheated
after reading this section. Rather, it is my wish
that readers will be informed of many of our
campus issues and work for the cause they feel is
most deserving. Remember, if you don't agree
with any or all of the opinions expressed in this
section, you are surely not alone.

t .,


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Code would put students in double

Sy Daily Staff
The decades-long push by the
University administration to insti-
tute a comprehensive code of student
non-academic conduct is once again
gaining momentum, and it is impor-
tant for students to understand the
dangers of such a policy. Members
of the administration argue that a
document governing students' behav-
ior is essential to protecting the
rights of all students; essentially,
however, such a code would do more
to limit the rights of students than
to protect them.
Proponents of a code have argued
that students who break the law, for

example by burning down a build-
ing, should be expelled from the
University, and a conduct policy
would enable this to happen. But
what these advocates ignore is the al-
ready-existing court system, in
which the University can prosecute
illegal activity perpetrated by stu-
dents. Rather than utilizing the
established courts, a conduct code
would allow the University to act as
prosecutor, judge and jury, thereby
ignoring any due process and forcing
students to stand trial twice for the
same crime. There is no need to set
up a separate court system when one
already exists.

A code could also be used by the
administration to stifle political ex-
pression, including protests or rallies
on the Diag and demonstrations in
front of the Fleming Administration
Building. Under the guise of protect-
ing academic pursuits, a conduct
code would empower the University
administration to sanction students
for exercising their First Amendment
Despite objections to the con-
trary, the only reason to institute
such a policy is to limit free expres-
sion beyond the boundaries dictated
by the U.S. judicial system. Crimes
such as arson, murder or rape will all

be punished within the court system
so there is no reason for the Univer-
sity to establish its own court. And
because free speech and political ex-
pression are protected by the Consti-
tution, the University's motive for
establishing a code must only be to
limit free and open discourse.
A conduct code is not a new idea.
The University of Michigan is one
of only a handful of schools without
a policy governing the non-academic
conduct of its students. The debate
over a conduct code has raged on
campus for 20 years, and only the
persistent opposition by a united
group of students has protected stu-
dents' non-academic freedoms.
Two weeks ago, the Michigan
Student Assembly recognized the
need for students to band together to
oppose the administration's attempts
and formed a special committee to
organize students against the imple-
mentation of a conduct code. Presi-
dent James Duderstadt and members
of the Board of Regents have re-
cently reaffirmed their commitment
to approving a policy on students'
behavior, and MSA has correctly re-
acted to the imminent threat of an
all-encompassing conduct code. In
the past, only a unified student op-
ngoition has staved off such a noL-


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