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September 22, 1994 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-09-22

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4 - The Michigan Daily -- Thursday, September 22, 1994

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420 Maynard
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan

Editor in Chief
Samuel Goodstein
Flint Wainess
Editorial Page Editors

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of a majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters, and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

'We try to show all different faiths and cultures:
Kwaanza, Judaism and Christianity.'
- Michigan Union Director Audrey Schwimmer, speaking on holiday
decorations in the Union

Playing politics

Still, the regents pass an
O n Monday, the University Board of Re-
gents revised its conflict-of-interest policy
for regents and executive officers of the Uni-
versity. While this policy revision is sound in
content, the timing of its passage calls into
question the usual nonpartisan nature of the
Board of Regents.
The revision of the Regental and Execu-
tive/Senior Officer Conflict-of-Interest Policy
eliminates a loophole created by a change in
state law earlier this year, by forbidding the
University to contract the work of any firm that
employs or is associated "in any capacity"
with a regent. This rule is commendable and
necessary, as it eliminates the possibility that a
regent - serving in an unpaid position -
could use his or her position to generate new
University business for a firm with which he or
she is associated .and, therefore, potentially
profit from the University contract.
The flaw in the passage of this revision lies
in its timing. Regardless of the true reasons for
the policy's adoption, its passage on Monday
casts the appearance of a partisan political
battle within the Board of Regents. Andrea
Fisher, a Republican candidate for regent, is a
principal with a law firm that does an enor-
mous amount of work for the University. If
Fisher wins the election in November, her firm
will no longer be able to accept new University
business. Coincidentally, only the Democratic
Regents proposed and supported the adoption
of this revision to their policy, while the Re-
publican regents abstained from voting on this
issue. This revision has the potential to force
Fisher to withdraw from the race -- or, at the

important change
very least, put her in an awkward position in
her law firm. Thus, while the long-term effect
of this policy will be to rightly ensure regents
cannot profit by virtue of their University ties,
the short-term ramifications cast the regents
in an unfavorable light. Regardless of the true
motivations - which may, in fact, have been
honorable - the Democratic regents who
sponsored this revision should have used bet-
ter judgment in timing their proposal.
While the University's regents are elected
in statewide partisan elections, the nature of
the regents' work is nonpartisan, as Univer-
sity decisions usually stray from the scope of
party platforms. The typical issues on which
regents legislate, such as the acceptance of the
University's budget or approval of new bond
issues, have nothing to do with party politics.
When party politics enter into regents' deci-
sions, the regents involved in the political
game appear petty and politically motivated,
even if the actions taken are wise and neces-
sary. These actions reflect poorly upon the
entire Board and distract the regents from
their true mission -guiding the University in
the best interests of the student body and state
of Michigan.
There certainly is no proof that this recent
proposal by the Democratic regents was, in-
deed, politically motivated. However, given
the timing of its passage it cannot help but
appear so. Regardless of their intentions, the
Democratic regents should have used more
forethought before embroiling their Board in
an unnecessary and unfortunate political con-

Haiti protestors display flawed arguments

To the Daily:
I am writing in regards to
the article regarding the protest
by several students of the U.S.
occupation of Haiti ("10 stu-
dents rally on Diag against U.S.-
Haiti policy," 9/20/94). I am
not necessarily in favor of any
U.S. action in Haiti, nor am I
necessarily opposed to the ac-
tion. However, I feel that the
arguments presented by the pro-
testors are simply flawed.
Whether this is due to a simple
lack of knowledge on the sub-
ject I do not know. However,
the reasons given as portrayed
by the Daily seem unsubstanti-
ated by the facts of the situa-
tion. They cite three main rea-
sons as to why the U.S. military
should not be in Haiti, and I
believe that all of these are based
on incorrect assumptions and
can be easily refuted by the
1. The protesters believe that
the U.S. is lying when it says
that we are going into Haiti to
restore democracy, and that our
true intentions are to crush it. I
have a difficult time believing
that our government, the same
one that fought the Russians for
years in an attempt to restore
democracy throughout the
world, and has a tough time
even talking to nations who
aren't democratic, would make
an attempt to keep down de-
mocracy in favor of some other
sort of regime. There is abso-
lutely no basis for believing

this in any of our history.
As a nation, we have been
committed to democracy more
than any other in the world.
Additionally, the purpose of the
mission to Haiti has always been
to restore to power the Haitians
democratically-elected Presi-
dent. Any democratic revolu-
tion would be not quenched,
but rather made unnecessary
by U.S. actions. The end result
of United States action in Haiti
should be to return democracy
when it has been taken away.
2. The protesters also in-
sisted that one of the reasons
for U.S. action in Haiti was to
"maintain economic domina-
tion." First of all, Haiti remains
the most undeveloped nation in
the entire Western hemisphere.
Why we would invade them
simply to dominate their
economy I do not know. More-
over, I don't see how our ac-
tions can be taken as an attempt
to in any way influence our
economic relations with Haiti.
True, the result may be better
political relations, and conse-
quently better economic rela-
tions with Haiti. But were this
to be the case, it would be their
choice, not ours, and we would
be in no way forcing any sort of
economic policy on them. How-
ever, the protesters insist that
by stopping the democratic
revolution we would be pro-
tecting U.S. capitalist interests
in Haiti. It seems more likely,
however, that, if we were truly

only concerned with making
sure that Haiti remained a capi-
talist country, we would be bet-
ter off with a democratic gov-
ernment as opposed to a mili-
tary dictator.
3. The third main point that
the protesters in the article made
was that the only reason we are
attempting to restore the exiled
Haitian President Aristede to
power is so he can be a "tool
and puppet of U.S. corporate
interests." However, the fact
remains that relations between
the U.S. government and Presi-
dent Aristede have been ter-
rible. He is generally unliked
by most of Washington, and he
returns the contempt. Addition-
ally, one of the stipulations of
our agreement with Aristede is
that he agrees to step down
from power after his term runs
out next year. The idea that we
are restoring him to power sim-
ply to control him is therefore
The purpose in writing this
letter was not to offend any-
one. I'm not sure whether U.S.
troops belong in Haiti. I do
believe, however, that our gov-
ernment is being honest with
us regarding our policy there.
I'm not sure why the students
protesting believe the way they
do, but I do believe that the
information on which they base
their opinions is incorrect.
Jason Bouterse
LSA first-year student

A place called
I have travelled long and far to
become a Michigan Woleine*
left the tourist-stricken, concrete-
laden, Miami Subs-a-eating land of
South Florida and headed north, leav-
ing 74 degrees and sunny behind for
the pleasantries of-22 degrees and
dropping. In actuality, my home-
town is probably not that different
from most of yours -my readersI
and fellow students! - suburban
sprawl, congestion, mini-malls g*
lore, backward-hat wearing high
school teenie-boppers. I come from
a place called PBG - Palm Beach
Gardens, Florida. The. Golf Capital
of the World. The place where alli-
gators end up in your pool and mos-
quitoes attack you in the night. A
city where the streets are named
after flowers and other plant life.
Now, don't you all out there mistak*
PBG for Palm Beach. I even get dirty
looks when I go over to Palm Beach.
They don't like anyone there, except
for silk-shirted rich people and of
course, the Kennedys. I'm a BMW-
less, Mercedes-less Lichtstein, and
people like us are forced to hide out
in our reclusive gated communities.
Really, the main reason we live in a
residence, manned 24 hours by pr@
fessionally trained, uniformed secu-
rity personnel and regularly patrolled
by canine units is that we are afraid
of the tourists and all of the violence
that they beget. By the way, I despise
tourists - with a passion. I cannot
lie to you, my readers. They don't
know how to drive, they're usually
very old and very short and cannoJ
see the road in- front of them, anW
they make up the bulk of the popula-
tion of South Florida.
But people like me are seous
hypocrites, because every time I go
back to PBG to visit my family, my
only friend left standing from high
school and, of course, the beach, I
love it. No lake with its accompany-
ing pseudo-beach in Wes
Bloomfield, replete with the newesP
in waverunner technology (dude!)
can compare to the sandy beaches of
the Sunshine State. My best bud
Jason and I can go to Singer Island,
swim out to the buoy, avoid the
sharks, throw the frisbee and then
scrape the tar from the bottoms of
our burnt feet - all in a day.
But I really must tell you about a
institution that defines my home-
town, a place that is the center of all
cultural and civic life - an eatery
that makes Angelo's of Flint (and
The Brown Jug) look like small po-
tatoes. I'm of course talking about
Cheeburger Cheeburger, where
amidst the blinding fluorescent lights
and video games, mouth-watering
one-pound cheeseburgers are serve
Some two and a half years ago dur-
ing my prom-less senior year, a bunchI
of friends and I ventured to
Cheeburger Cheeburger to dare and
eat a one-pound burger. 18 ounces
(its precooked weight) of red meat!
We didn't eat anything the entire day
and then to distract us, we played

Sega the entire afternoon in nervous
anticipation of our time of glory
This is what it takes to prove your
manhood in PBG - some meat and
beating your friends at Sega hockey.
For guys, Madden football or Sega
hockey is a godsend -there is abso-
lutely no better way to blow the day
than to run Barry Sanders up and
down a make-believe field and
through hundreds of tackles. (Re-
member to press B!) The point here
folks is that 7 friends and I managed
to eat one-pound of animal flesh
(topped with the cheese of your
choice) and we finished it off with
some milkshakes. You may ask, why
am I telling you this story? Because,
goddamit, that's what PBG is all
about. Iwould never, everthink about
going home and not eating at m
beloved Cheeburger Cheeburger.GA
to the mall? Sure, but how about a
cheeseburger first?
So if you ever wonder why all of
these tanned Floridians have ended
up hundreds of miles away on the

The ratings game
U.S. News rankings assess schools unfairly

LLast fall, a little-known men's magazine
called The Inside Edge published its rank-
ing of the best party schools in the United
States, based on a number of criteria ranging
from the attractiveness of the women on cam-
pus to the proximity of bars. U.S. News and
World Report's annual ranking of colleges
uses more respectable criteria, but barely rises
above The Inside Edge in fairness and useful-
Each year admissions directors, regents
and university administrators at colleges across
the country are quoted as saying they don't
give the ranking much weight, and that the
university's reputation can stand on its own.
Yet every year those quotes appear in front-
page stories in college and local newspapers,
proclaiming the rank of the institution and
how that compares to previous years' rankings.
U.S. News uses five criteria to determine
the rankings: student selectivity (high school
grades, SAT/ACT scores and acceptance rate),
faculty resources (percent of faculty with a
Ph.D., average salary, faculty/student ratio),
financial resources, graduation rate (also called
"student satisfaction") and alumni satisfac-
tion. While the study may be carefully re-
searched, careful research cannot make up for
a misguided purpose.
These criteria disadvantage some schools
which may actually provide better educations
for their students. A school which gains a
reputation forrigorous academics,forexample,
does not attract as many applicants, thus must
accept a greater percentage of those who do
apply - consequently losing points in student
selectivity. Graduation rate as a measure of
student satisfaction is also flawed, as schools
with tough programs, or those which attract

students who must work to pay their way
through school, may have lower graduation
rates which do not reflect the quality of the
school's reputation. Such schools with tough
classes and many requirements to graduate
may scare away students, but probably offer
better educations to those who stay. Con-
versely, a school like Harvard where "the
hardest part is getting in" receives an
undeservedly high ranking.
The measures of faculty resources also do
not necessarily reflect reality. A school may
have a high student/faculty ratio, but that does
not help when the faculty are hidden away in
their labs fighting for tenure. The percentage
of faculty with a Ph.D. and faculty salaries, the
other two variables in "faculty resources," are
also likely to be more strongly related to
research activity than to teaching skill. Fur-
ther flaws are found in the financial resources
criteria, which give a distinct advantage to
private institutions - thus unfairly down-
grading public schools like the University.
This per-student expenditure is just as likely
to reflect upkeep on buildings and research
labs as resources for students.
The quality of a college or university is
necessarily subjective, and cannot be ranked
by profit ratio like a corporation striving to
make the Fortune 500. As the U.S. News
rankings become more popular every year,
parents, students, and the press should move
their quest for information about educational
quality elsewhere - to evaluations more in-
depth than a simple list of names. Each
student's educational needs are different, and
a ranking cannot determine what is best for
everyone. Quality of education is and should
remain a non-measurable entity.

Editorial on textbook issue misses facts

To the Daily:
In a recent editorial, the
Daily overlooked some impor-
tant facts pertaining to the text-
book issue on the University
campus ("Spiraling textbook
costs", 9/13/94). The idea of an
MSA-sponsored Student Book
Exchange (SBE) is one pos-
sible method of reducing the
burden of textbook costs on stu-
dents, and it was one of the
original possible solutions con-
sidered by MSA. However, one
of the largest hurdles to the suc-
cess of the SBE is the lack of
access to the list of texts or-
dered by professors for the new
term. Currently, the list of texts
ordered for most courses are
handled by the Textbook Re-
porting Service (TRS) which is
run by the three major campus
bookstores. The list for the rest

of the courses is handled by the
Shaman Drum bookstore. In
order to obtain access to the
main list (that handled by the
TRS) it would be necessary for
the SBE to enter into a business
agreement with the three cam-
pus stores to split the cost of
administering the textbook or-
dering process. The SBE cur-
rently would be unable to cover
the cost of participation.
Therefore, in order to gain
access to the list without enter-
ing into the business agreement,
it is necessary to make the lists
accessible to any party inter-
ested. This could be most easily
done through the University's
Vice President's Office for
Academic Affairs. Hence, the
need for the MSA policy which
would incorporate the TRS into
the Vice President's Office for

Academic Affairs.
This would also lower the
barriers for new entries into the
textbook market, hence in-
creasing competition. The
MSA policy would also tighten
up the time limits on when
professors turn in their
bookslips. Having bookslips
turned in on time would in-
crease the ability of bookstores
to buy back books from stu-
dents at 50 percent of new price
rather than the wholesale price
of much less. Also, used texts
cost less for students. There-
fore, the adoption of the MSA
policy is a necessary first to
any relief of textbook prices.
Mike Christie Jr.
LSA senior
Chair, MSA Academic
Affairs Commission

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