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December 02, 1993 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-12-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Secret
Government

Despite a Michigan Supreme
Court ruling, the University is deter-
mined to flaunt the Open Meetings
Act by conducting candidate searches
in total secrecy. Right now, a com-
mittee is assembling a slate of candi-
dates for the position of Law dean,
vacated by Lee Bollinger last month.

The provost and the president of the
University will winnow down the slate
to either one or a few candidates,
although the regents will make the
*final "decision" in public.
But the Court ruled in September
in the Duderstadt case that a decision
involves much more than an inaugu-
ral rubber stamp. Under the Open
Meetings Act, each stage of the search
where decisions are made - even if
they are made by an individual or
subcommittee - must be conducted
in public.
If the secret Law dean search goes
uncontested, the University will have
succeeded in narrowing the scope of
the Court's ruling in the Duderstadt
case. Regardless, the University will
continue to test the Court's resolve
until it determines the absolute mini-
mum amount of search proceedings it
can conduct in public.
The Open Meetings Act was
passed in 1976 to allow Michigan
*citizens greater access to government
and set down clear guidelines that
public bodies must follow. As a pub-
lic body, the University Board of
Regents must hold in public all meet-
ings of a quorum of its members. It
must also allow public access when-
ever it makes decisions, like choosing
candidates to be dean.
The regents would just as soon
shut the public out of the hiring pro-
cess, and make .the decisions them-
selves behind closed doors. But the
Court specifically ruled against these
smoke-filled-room searches in Sep-
tember.
So, to avoid holding open meet-
ings, the regents have removed them-
selves from the process, and trans-
ferred hiring authority to the Univer-
sity bureaucracy. They have allowed
*for the appointment of a Search Advi-
sory Committee, consisting of stu-
dents, faculty and staff, to find candi-
dates for the Law dean position. From
this committee, Provost Gilbert
Whitaker said in an electronic mes-
sage, he expects to choose at least
three names, which he will forward to
the president. "The president," he said,
"will decide which name(s) to for-
*ward to the regents, who will make
the final decision."
Common sense tells us that if the
pool of candidates has already been
narrowed to only a handful, the re-
gents will not really be making a
"decision," but providing a rubber
stamp. It is the same kind of ruse the
regents used to avoid holding open
meetings in the Duderstadt search.
To provide some legal footing, the
*administration has adopted the nar-
rowest possible interpretation of what
amounts to a fairly broad Supreme
Court opinion. The Court ruled that
the University's use of small sub-
quorum groups, conference calls, and
individual on-site visits to narrow the
list of candidates in the 1989 hiring of
University President James
Duderstadt violated the Open Meet-
ings Act. Specifically, it ruled that
even if the regents delegate their hir-
ing authority to a subcommittee, "then
that subcommittee is also a 'public
body' within the meaning of the act."
In other words, if a subcommittee
(or, presumably, "advisory" commit-

t this point, the music revolution has been over and done for nearly 10 years.
Most of the musical consumers of today simply cannot remember a past
without MTV. Since the network began broadcasting in August 1981, it has
transformed how the music industry operates and how music itself is heard.
In most discussions of MTV, arguments concentrate on how the network
changed movies and television, yet pay little mind to how the music industry has been
changed. Over the course of 12 years, MTV has become America's national radio station and
is quickly becoming the radio station for the entire world. It is true that the network's ratings
peaked in 1984, but its influence on music is stronger than ever.
In 1987, MTV began broadcasting MTV Europe. Three years later, MTV Brazil was
launched, followed by divisions in Asia, Japan and Latin America; combined, the estimated
total households for the entire world is a staggering 211 million. In America alone, MTV
reaches 60 million households. Without a doubt, anyone who has any interest in music at all
tunes into MTV at the very least several times during the year. Granted, the ratings are lower,
but then again MTV is not what is used to be.
Flip back 10 years, to the watershed year of 1983. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was
dominating the charts, an album that would prove to transform the face of popular music. Not
only did it change the way the success of an album was gauged, it established the importance
of MTV. When Jackson submitted his videos for "Billie Jean" and "Beat It," MTV was
broadcasting any video it could get its hands on. All sorts of one-hit wonders and pop
sensations popped up, from Kajagoogoo and A Flock of Seagulls to Culture Club and Men
at Work. While their songs were brilliant pop singles, most of the bands did not have much
influence or staying power on the charts. It took Jackson to establish the power of MTV.
Without him, the network would never have gained credibility or influence. Viewers tuned
into the network to watch his videos and, in turn, they sent "Thriller" to the top of the charts
for a record number of weeks. Following in his glowing footsteps, other artists began to use
videos as a tool to sell their music. The result was two glorious years of Top 40 hits, two years
that were rich in diversity of musical styles and rich in both meaningful and disposable pop
hits.
After the seminal years of 1983 and 1984, MTV's audience did decline and the network
entered a small crisis. Certain videos were landmarks - Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing,"
Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," Ah-Ha's "Take On Me" and anything by Madonna - but
overall, the quality of the videos (and, not coincidentally, the strength of the singles) declined.
In 1987, the network started to show signs of life, with U2 and R.E.M. breaking
into the mainstream. But it was the fol- lowing year that showed
what MTV's real power was.
W h entheir debut album, "Ap-
petite for Destruction,"
was released in 1987,
Guns N' Roses barely
made a dent on the
charts. "Welcome to
the Jungle," the first
choice for a video
garnered no air-
play outside of
"Headbanger's
Ball." It was only
after a signifi-
- r cant number of
viewer's re-
quests for
"Sweet Child
O' Mine" did
the album-
begin to sell.
Simulta-
neously,
D e f
Leppard
domi -
nated the
x air -
Q waves
with
videos
from

By TOM ERLEWINE

"Hysteria." Although the band enjoyed a great deal of success
with "Pyromania," "Hysteria" sold much more than that 1983
album because of MTV. Unlike U2 and R.E.M., both Guns N'
Roses and Def Leppard built their audience through video, not
through touring; they hinted at MTV's role in the 1990s. For U2
and R.E.M., videos were catalysts to their success, not the cause.
That was not the case with Nirvana, arguably the most influ-
ential band in rock 'n' roll since the advent of MTV. Nirvana was
virtually unknown before the 1991 release of "Nevermind." No
one expected the album to sell much more than 50,000 copies but
MTV was the reason all of that changed. Through their constant
airing (on both "120 Minutes" and "Headbanger's Ball," as well
as viewer's requests) of the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video,
MTV sparked a revolution inside the music industry that caught
everyone by surprise.
When the network was first gaining control during the early
'80s, such a wide-scale revolution was not possible. During those
years, video itself was the revolution, not the music it sold. Also,
MTV broadcast nothing but videos during those days. In the late
'80s, the network tried to broaden its audience by broadcasting
programs that were either not related to videos (like "Remote
Control" and "The 1/2 Hour Comedy Hour") or specialty pro-
grams like "Headbanger's Ball," "Yo! MTV Raps" and
"Postmodern MTV."
Recently, MTV's programming schedule has become clut-
tered with special-interest and entertainment programs. MTV has
even made at "serious" journalism with "MTV News at Night"
and its town-hall program with Bill Clinton. Of course, "Beavis
and Butt-head" has undone most of the network's high
See MTV, Page 4

C-

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