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September 05, 1991 - Image 23

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-09-05

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 5, 1991 - Page 3

Read with
interest,
not scorn
by Stephen Henderson
. When I came to this campus in
:the fall of 1988, I was eager to get
~my first glimpse of The Michigan
Daily.
I had already heard plenty about
;it from my orientation leaders who
after chuckling impolitely when
:I inquired about it - informed me
that the Daily was possibly the
;worst publication ever to see print.
,They told me it was characterized
;by poor writing, sloppy editing and
less-than-adequate coverage. They
also warned me of its ridiculously
liberal stance, which I was told
tainted every part of the paper.
So, it was with several
Spreconceived notions that I grabbed
the Daily out of that little blue box
on the first floor of West Quad.
And as I read it on my way to class,
many of these notions were verified.
It was poorly written and edited.
I did find the paper's opinions to be
somewhat silly in their attempts to
be "progressive." And as for
getting the facts straight, the Daily
o. ften .left a lot to be desired.
But my distaste for the Daily did
not endure for very long.
Toward the end of my first year,
I began to take an interest in the
goings on of this community. What
callow antics the Michigan Student
Assembly (MSA) - our student
government - was pulling
suddenly had some importance in
my life.
I wanted to know about the
policies implemented by the
University administration,
especially those which had a direct
effect on my campus life. The
viewpoints and actions of the more
than 700 campus student groups
sparked my interest.
And I soon learned that there
was ostensibly one source that
could provide me with this
information - the Daily.
Begrudgingly, I began reading it
again. And much to my surprise, my
overall opinion of the Daily
changed.
Oh, I still thought it fell far
short of good, professional
journalism. But I did begin to
Oppreciate the things the paper had
to offer.
As long as I kept up with the
baily, and at least perused the
articles, I felt like I was informed; I
felt like I was a part of the
community in which I was living.
Eu.
But it wasn't until I came to
work for the Daily that I realized
what the true role of a college
newspaper is.
After experiencing student
journalism first-hand, I saw how
unrealistic it is to expect a group of
people predominantly under the age
of 21 to produce a superbly written
and edited newspaper every day. And
the idea of trying to hold student
journalists to 100 percent accuracy
all of the time also faded from the
scope of reality.
Though we strive for these

things, we continue to fall short.
Imminently more important
than the Daily upholding the ideals
of perfect, professional journalism
is its unwavering commitment to
providing students with
information they cannot obtain
elsewhere.
The University is actually a
microcosm of our larger society. It
has an active government in MSA,
more than 700 activist and lobby
groups, and its own form of
Wdespotism in the Board of Regents
and other administrators. Not to
mention an active social and leisure
scene in the Greek system, our
vibrant sports teams and diverse
cultural cliques.
If Frank Allison and the Odd
Sox - a local band - packs the
Blind Pig on a Saturday night, it
certainly won't be in the Detroit
Free Press. But it will be in the
Daily.
Or if "Students Against
Everything" holds a 10-person sit-
in at the monthly meeting of the
University's Board of Regents,
chances are it won't make the
Jackson Citizen Patriot. It will,
however, make the Daily.
And if the Michigan Field
Hockey Team edges a conference
:rival in overtime, the Ann Arbor

An unidentified Rackham Political Science teaching assistant writes his views on the University
administration's treatment of TAs in chalk on the Fleming Administration Building.o
wil coine o fight
'U' for acceptable contract

From the Editor
Students choose from
more than 31 flavors
by Matt Rennie
Daily NSE Editor
When I was growing up, a lot of things confused me. For example,
why would anyone listen to country music? Or who would pay good
money for a new car and get it in yellow?
In an effort to solve these mysteries, I took them to the wisest person
I knew, my father. In response to my inquiry, Dad quoted the wisest per-
son he knew, my grandfather. (Our family doesn't get out much.)
Dad said, "'It would be a sad world if everyone liked chocolate ice
cream.~~
Not surprisingly, this answer did not satisfy me. First of all, I did like
chocolate ice cream, and I couldn't figure out what ol' Daddy-O had
against it. Second of all, what in the world did that have to do with coun-
try music or yellow cars? Maybe Dad's not so smart after all.
Today, I feel like Mark Twain, who said, "When I was 12, I thought
my dad was the dumbest man in the world. When I was 22, I couldn't be-
lieve how much the old man had learned in 10 years."
Dad was right; it would be a sad world if everyone liked chocolate ice
cream. But the point is that it also would be a sad world if everyone liked
vanilla ice cream. Or country and western. Or yellow cars.
It's not that there's anything wrong with any of those things. It's just
that without differing opinions, the world would be a very dull place.
Which is why the University of Michigan is the ideal college campus.
At Michigan, you'll find people who represent every viewpoint you can
possibly imagine.
At first, these people will seem to be everywhere. In the dorm. On the
Diag. In the Union. On the street. They'll be protesting. Or rallying. Or
feeding you their literature.
Welcome to Michigan.
"Weirdos," you'll mumble as you scurry away from them.
It's a natural reaction. After all, there weren't any people like that
back home - where everybody thought the same way, acted the same way,
voted the same way, prayed the same way. Back home, nobody wanted you
to protest anything.
Of course, nobody made you think about anything, either.
"Weirdos," you'll say again, sounding more and more like my reaction
to country and western fans.
The important thing to remember when you encounter a group sup-
porting views with which you do not agree is that they probably don't
agree with your views, either.
Philosophers say that only by continually questioning your own posi-
tion can you thoroughly understand it. Furthermore, they say those who
do not understand their opponents' arguments do not completely under-
stand their own.
Therefore, you should relish every encounter you have with peple
from alternate viewpoints. And at Michigan, these opportunities come
with every walk to class.
However, it's not that way at all schools. Last December, I visited my
friend at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. Holy Cross is a private school
much smaller than Michigan. Immediately upon entering the campus, I
knew I was in a very different place. Just inside the gates of the school
(gates?!), I noticed a construction crew setting up a nativity scene with a
statue of a baby Jesus.
I couldn't believe it. Can you imagine this at Michigan, I thought.
There'd be a holy war.
Now, Holy Cross is a private school. It receives no state or federal
funding. Basically, it can do whatever it wants. And there's nothing
wrong with what the school does. First of all, it offers a top-notch educa-
tion, and second of all, the students know the school's religious stance be-
forehand.
However, during my entire stay, I felt sorry for the students there. I
couldn't help thinking that they all were going to graduate, and at age 22,
still think the whole world was Catholic.
In short, everyone there liked chocolate ice cream.
This is where Michigan has an advantage. The cultures represented at
the University are as widespread as those of the world. Living within the
University community is a precursor to living in the world, where not ev-
eryone will agree with you.
The role of secondary education is to prepare a person to live in this di-
verse society. This goes beyond mere job training. It includes broadening
an individual's thinking by exposing the person to a variety of cultures.
This type of education does not take place in the class room, but on the
other areas of campus. However, this education through diversity can only
take place on a campus which is truly diverse.
Instead of condemning people for expressing alternate viewpoints, we
should be fighting to make sure they are heard. After all, the next views
which could be threatened may be our own.

So the next time you're walking through the Diag and the
demonstrators du jour offer you some of their literature, don't dismiss
them as "weirdos." Read their pamphlet. Listen to what they have to say.
Then, draw your own conclusion.
Don't be afraid to disagree with them, but don't be afraid to agree ei-
ther. Occasionally, try something different. Once in a while, choose the
road less travelled. Live on the edge.
Order butter pecan.

by Tom Oko
and Chris Roberson
The University of Michigan, like most large univer-
sities, views teaching as a necessary evil rather than as
its main purpose. The University administration wants
to keep teaching costs as low as it can. This means as-
signing as much teaching as possible to a relatively
small number of low-paid employees. At the Univer-
sity of Michigan, this cheap, exploitable labor pool is
made up of graduate student teaching assistants (TAs).
Teaching assistants have traditionally been the last
people to get benefits in good budget years and the first
to have their benefits cut during tight years. When the
administration tried to slash benefits in the early
1970s, the University teaching assistants organized
their own labor union: the Graduate Employees Orga-
nization, or GEO. This union has been protecting TAs'
rights for over fifteen years.
The members of GEO want the same things as mem-
bers of most labor unions: we want to make sure that
TAs earn a living wage and to protect ourselves from
bad working conditions. Unfortunately, the current
University administration is not making this very easy.
We having been trying to negotiate a new contract since
January 1991. Both sides have been in state-sponsored
mediation since the beginning of April. While media-
tion brought both sides closer together, it has not yet
succeeded in convincing the administration to offer
something TAs can live with.
GEO is currently asking for a wage increase equal to
the inflation rate: 6 percent. This would insure that our
already low wages will not be eroded by inflation. We
are also asking for an extension of the tuition waiver
benefit to low-income TAs, and a guarantee of summer
health insurance. And very importantly, we are seeking
a limit on class size, which would benefit both TAs
and their students.
Although negotiations have been going on for more
than five months, the administration has not yet of-
fered the membership an acceptable contract. They are
currently offering a 4.5 percent wage increase and a
guarantee of reimbursement for summer health insur-
ance costs. The wage offer is a cut in real wages
(purchasing power); the health insurance reimbu'se-
ment does nothing to help TAs who cannot afford to

pay first and be reimbursed later.
GEO members participated in many rallies and in-
formational picketing last term. Also, the membership
held two well-publicized work stoppages in April.
They were very successful: hundreds of TAs either can-
celled classes and office hours or moved them off cam-
Since the TAs still do not have a
contract, there will be more
rallies, more demonstrations,
more picketing, and, possibly,
more work stoppages - or even
a strike. Our job actions will
depend on what the members of
the administration offer. If they
offer a fair contract, no one
needs to worry.
pus. The work stoppages and other activities demon-
strated that the union is organized and has widespread
support among both TAs and students.
Negotiations are at a stopping' point right now.
Most of GEO's membership is away or laid off for the
summer, so the union will return to negotiations in
earnest at the beginning of the fall term. Since the TAs
still do not have a contract, there will be more rallies,
more demonstrations, more picketing, and, possibly,
more work stoppages - or even a strike. Our job ac-
tions will depend on what the members of the adminis-
tration offer. If they offer a fair contract, no one needs
to worry. But if they continue to stonewall as they did
last term, they should expect that the members of GEO
will do whatever is necessary to protect themselves
and encourage better treatment of TAs and undergradu-
ates at the University.
Roberson is the outgoing president of GEO. Oko is the
incoming president of GEO.

Amnesty International works
for justice using pen and paper

by Jen Fader
Today, it seems as if everything
that occurs in the world is beyond
the control of ordinary students.
What difference can we, as students,
make?
The answer is a big difference,
and Amnesty International's cam-
pus group makes it possible.
Amnesty International is an easy
way to have a worldwide impact as a
college student.
As a member of the campus
Amnesty International group, you
can become powerful. Amnesty In-
ternational is a thirty-year-old in-
ternational organization dedicated
to the case of all human rights. As
an 'impartial movement, AI allows
differing oninions and ideologies at

political prisoners and an end to
torture and executions in all cases.
Last year, the group collectively
wrote hundreds of letters, each hav-
ing the power to influence and
change the lives of prisoners of con-
science around the world. The pen
and paper become the Amnesty vol-
unteer's tools in working for human
rights. While our group's focus is
letter-writing, other opportunities,
such as petitioning in residence halls
and soliciting signatures for peti-
tions on behalf of individual prison-
ers, are always available. Last year,
the campus group published a
newsletter biweekly and opened the
"writing floor" to any member.

Amnesty International opens your
eyes to the world and allows y i td
make changes. -
Writing letters and advocating
human rights is a rewarding andex-
citing experience. Consider the fact
that virtually every day, major
newspapers cite Amnesty Interua4
tional as a global authority onjni
formation regarding prisoneri of
conscience and human rights issues..
More importantly, consider the
words of just one of thousands of
recipients of Amnesty Interna-
tional's appeals, the Council of
Unions of South Africa: "In thii
dark hour of uncertainty and fear,
your letters of protest came to us as
-n liiht. n- n

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