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April 18, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-04-18

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 18, 1995

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JEAN TWENGE

THE ERASABLE PEN 1

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

MICHAEL ROSENBERG
Editor in Chief
JULE BECKER
JAmEs NASH
Editorial Page Editors

'Geekgate' and the drive
to succeed at all costs

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.
New evidence strengthens case against code

ummer will come early to Ann Arbor this
year. Along with sunshine and warm
weather comes another seasonal tradition:
dramatic policy shifts by the University ad-
ministration -for good or ill. Meeting Thurs-
day and Friday, the University Board of
Regents should seize the opportunity to undo
one of the University's most abominable
policies.
Several items relating to the Statement of
Student Rights and Responsibilities, other-
wise known as the code, are on the board's
agenda. The regents will first consider
whether to make the code a permanent policy
or to keep it in the current interim status.
Though that status is largely symbolic -- the
code has all the invasive power of a perma-
; nent policy - it at least requires the regents
to review the document each year and con-
~sider its effect on students. While this is
undoubtedly better than a permanent policy,
the best decision would be to do what stu-
dents have been demanding since the code's
inception: toss the policy out entirely.
When the code comes up for discussion at
the meeting, University administrators will
argue that it is mandated by law. That is true
- to a point. Washington requires universi-
ties receiving federal funds to implement a
policy on alcohol and drugs, while state law
mandates a sexual harassment policy. Nei-
ther requires the all-encompassing behav-
ioral guidelines included in the code.
But students have known all along that
there is no legislative mandate for a compre-
hensive non-academic conduct code. Oppo-
nents of the policy have argued all along that
it's bad in theory. However, what students
now know is that it is bad in practice as well.
This year, there is ample new evidence of
the code's incompatibility with student rights.
The regents need only look to the Lavie-
Welch hearing in January. From beginning
to end, the case was a sad demonstration of
the University's ineptitude in administering
a quasi-judicial system. It started with a pro-
tracted struggle over whether to hold an open
hearing, and progressed to Judicial Advisor
Mary Lou Antieau revealing her embarrass-
ing ignorance of the code's workings. Other
Scases, including the most recent involving
University wrestlers, have also highlighted

the problems that arise when the University
attempts to duplicate or circumvent the U.S.
legal system.
The amendments hearing held in January
only confirmed that the code is unworkable.
After a rushed meeting in which speakers
were given a mere 30 seconds to present their
views, the panel rejected changes that would
have added a small measure of fairness to the
code procedure, including one that would
have allowed attorneys to speak for accused
students. Meanwhile, the panel approved
amendments that make the policy more
invasive. It passed proposals that - if ap-
proved by the regents - would add murder
and breach of hearing confidentiality to the
list of punishable offenses. In addition, the
panel approved a proposal to remove the 30-
mile radius provision - giving the Univer-
sity license to charge students for actions
performed anywhere in the world. When
these administration-supported amendments
come up for approval Friday, the regents
must show independence and reject them.
If the regents are looking for an amend-
ment worthy of approval, however, one MSA-
supported proposal fits the bill. The so-called
"Advisor Corps" would provide advisers for
students involved in code cases. This pro-
posal is an example of the one positive ele-
ment to come out of the code's presence on
campus: a heightened student activism and
cooperation among student groups. MSA
has lobbied the regents tirelessly against the
policy, and a newly formed group, Students
Against the Code, is staging a rally Thursday
on the Diag to showcase student opposition.
Students should attend this rally and the
regents meeting on Friday. The administra-
tion has consistently ignored student outcry
against the code, and the time has come for
students to take their case directly to the ones
holding the ultimate power - the University
Board of Regents.
In its 2 1/2 years as an interim policy, the
code has proven to be nothing but an unwel-
come and illogical intrusion into students'
lives. If the regents are to back up their claim
that they share student concerns, they must
take the one step that truly restores students'
rights. At Friday's meeting, they must kill
the code once and for all.

It's finally happened. After years of
NCAA violations, fixed games and ste-
roids, the biggest cheating scandal in the
Midwest now involves an academic com-
petition.
When the Academic Decathlon team
from Steinmetz High School in Chicago
won the state championship last month, it
was called a Cinderella story: Triumphing
over incredible odds, the city school man-
aged to beat out perennial suburban win-
ner Whitney Young. But Steinmetz' scores
were literally too good to be true, jumping
200 points or more from the regional com-
petition one month before. When Decath-
lon officials asked the students to retake
the tests, they refused.
Still, the team and their coach denied
that any cheating had taken place. Last
week, several students confessed that they
had been given the answers to the tests,
and the full scope of the scandal was
exposed at long last. A flood of indigna-
tion followed. Letters to the editor la-
mented the low morals of this generation
of young people.
An editorial in the Chicago Tribune
marveled at how long they kept up their
deception and took pity on them as chil-
dren who were merely following an influ-
ential mentor. On the front page, an edito-
rial masquerading as a news article in the
Tribune quoted an expert who blamed the
entire mess on the adults involved, saying
that academic competitions are fueled by
teachers' and parents' constant pressure
on the kids to win.
Academic Decathlon is a grueling com-

petition, a day of six tests on specific
topics from every academic field in addi-
tion to an essay, an interview, an indi-
vidual speech and a "Super Quiz" held in
front of an audience. Since the outline of
material for the academic fields is given
ahead of time, team members spend their
summer and fall researching topics at the
library, and their winters memorizing the
material for the tests. It is the ultimate
challenge for a student, an experience that
is at once arduous, frustrating, time-con-
suming and exhilarating.
This, of course, also means it's nerdy
and very uncool. In my high school, De-
cathlon was not so affectionately known
as "Geek Team." Although the Steinmetz
students were wrong to cheat, it is amaz-
ing to think that they thought Decathlon
was important enough to cheat for. Cheat-
ing to pass a class or get into college is one
thing, but who wants to cheat to be known
as the best of the geeks? It is a tiny spot of
sunlight in a quagmire of deceit and de-
ception: The Steinmetz students were will-
ing to risk everything they had to be seen
as smart and studious. How often does that
happen in high schools today?
The attention and criticism surround-
ing the students and the competition is
unbalanced in another way. In truth, they
have merely accomplished what athletic
teams have done for years - cheat and
hope to get away with it. No one talks of
abolishing baseball when players are ac-
cused of fixing games, and football con-
tinues despite the free prostitutes, the cars
and the myriad other promises made to

recruits at colleges across the nation.
The expert who suggested that it's onlyg
the parents who want the kids to participate
in academic contests exhibits a similar
blindness. Athletic competitions have been
fueled by parental pressure and vicarious
living for years, yet no one sits in their
ivory tower shaking their heads at these
misguided people who force their kids to
play high school football.
On the other side of things, the Steinmetz
students who cheated robbed themselve(
of something no football game could have
given them: academic experience and
knowledge that would help them in college
and the rest of their lives. Being a member
of an Academic Decathlon team - one
who researched all of the material, learned
it and didn't cheat - helped me sail through
several difficult college courses at the Uni-
versity of Chicago. My classes were fille
with students from elite'high schools fro
across the country, but Decathlon built on
my mediocre Texas public high school
education to make me into a competent
student unafraid of art history, social sci-
ence theory, physics, economics and li-
brary research. Six years later, the research
skills I learned in Decathlon are helping me
write the literature review for my disserta-
tion.
The Steinmetz students managed ti
break the "geek barrier" of high school life,
actually wanting to be known as studious.
In the end, however, theirs was an empty
victory, with all the meaninglessness of

winning;
edge.

and none of the glory of knowl-

JIM LASSER

SHARP AS TOAST

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YEAS, x-115 15 WORTXH

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NOTABLE QUOTABLE
"This does not
account for all
crashes - some
suggest as more
women work, they
are adopting more
male-type
behavior, drive
more aggressively
than they did."
- Dawn Massie, an
associate at the Transpor-
tation Research Institutg
explaining women 's
driving habits

F

fobM 1

VIEWPOINT
Students: Code won't leave-on its own

The liberal vacuum
Dearth of leadership dogs 'new' Democrats

ewt Gingrich and the Republicans are
N.' the toastof the town these days. Their
"Contract With America" was largely pushed
through the House, and the Speaker can now
look back on his first 100 days of action as a
triumph - the triumph of American conser-
vatism over "outdated" New Deal and Great
Society social liberalism. Most Americans,
in light of the GOP landslides in recent
elections and overwhelming media focus on
the political right, would find it difficult to
dispute his claim. But it is not a triumph -
not yet. In fact, the ascent of the political
right can be attributed to the absence of a
viable political challenge from the left. But
there is yet an opportunity for liberals to
reclaim the debate before the right becomes
entrenched.
In the wake of 12 years of Reaganite
government, Bill Clinton seemed to many
like a breath of fresh air - a return to more
traditionally liberal social values in America.
But his "New Covenant," in which he and the
Democratic party pledged to "put people
first," today looks much more like the poli-
cies of the Reagan-Bush era than any of his
post World War 1-era Democratic predeces-
r. vv Qe% f :*,m*nnr lm rai-nt:- -ica -v

nowhere - and that's the problem.
Potential liberal leaders who emerged at
the time of the 1992 presidential election -
Tom Harkin and Jerry Brown, for example
- saw an initial surge of support, but quickly
fell off the political map as Clinton clinched
the nomination. The only truly liberal Demo-
crats with any visibility, Jesse Jackson and
Ted Kennedy, launched unsuccessful bids
for the White House in the '80s. Their inter-
est and ability to galvanize a national liberal
coalition are clearly in doubt.
With all the talk of a "center" third party
being formed, it would seem that the true
void in American politics lies not in the
center, but on the left. Unless the Democratic
Party takes an unlikely move and reclaims
the mantle of both social liberalism and eco-
nomic liberalism, the left will have to mobi-
lize itself -or risk the final triumph of which
Mr. Gingrich speaks. As if to concede defeat,
the party leadership has shied away from the
label "liberal" since it was used to smear
presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in
1988.
If only in the interest of a renewed politi-
cal debate, America needs liberals. But as
1t'n a..flf nnn-t..nn . n trf f rnt *:fl nr

By Anne Marie Elison
While the students of the
University cram for their finals,
the regents will be making deci-
sions that could affect the course
of our academic lives at the Uni-
versity of Michigan. It is time to
pay attention to events transpir-
ing around us: We have an op-
portunity to affect the policies
and practices .of the Statement
of Student Rights and Respon-
sibilities, known as the code.
Several years ago, a federal
mandate came down to univer-
sities requiring that they have
two basic policies: a policy on
drug and alcohol use and a policy
on sexual assault. The Univer-
sity used this opportunity to for-
mulate a pervasive code of non-
academic behavior. Today, the
alcohol and drug policy remains
separate from the code. Instead,
the code addresses infractions
of law, which would fall under
jurisdiction of the American
judicial system - which is far
better equipped to deal with
unacceptable conduct than is our
University. The code defines
unacceptable behavior, estab-
lishes a way of addressing it and
sanctioning those found to vio-
late community standards.
Over the last two decades,

ment with the relatively weak
federal mandates. Others will
tell you that it's a more just
administration of disciplinary
action, because now the presi-
dent can't just arbitrarily toss
you out of school - a claim that
remains to be seen, particularly
in light of the Jake Baker case.
Some say that the 1960s and
'70s on this campus were some-
how "too free" - and the code
is an attempt to get back to a
more moderate campus life. You
might also be told that because
you chose to attend this Univer-
sity, you have agreed to a higher
standard of acceptable behav-
ior; the university community
is better than society on the
whole, and the University has a
right to hold students to a higher
standard, not simply academi-
cally, but also personally. (The
academic code is not at issue
here - that is the place of the
University. But regulating indi-
viduals' behavior outside of
classes, and even off campus, is
another thing entirely. Univer-
sities are not supposed to act as
judicial and punitive bodies.)
Others think of the code as a
leveler of social and cultural
differences - a notion that
strikes me as having serious rac-

ings and amendment hearings
are completely untouchable.
Panelists are "randomly" cho-
sen by the administration,
trained by the administration,
and guided by the administra-
tors in their deliberations. The
problem is, there are no checks
on this system. Panelists are
strictly anonymous, parts of
their training sessions (despite
the Open Meetings Act) are
closed to unobtrusive observ-
ers, they are led to believe that
they are "experts" on the code
and the same administrator who
trains them (Judicial Advisor
Mary Lou Antieau) presides
over code hearings, presents the
administration's amendments to
the code and presides over
closed panel deliberations. In
addition, the panelists have been
able to meet in deliberations
without quorum - certainly not
a practice described in the
code's procedures.
Not only is the code inher-
ently undemocratic and unjust,
it is expensive. First, the entire
Office of the Judicial Affairs
Advisor was established ex-
pressly to administer the code
and its procedures. Beyond the
salaries and work
-study dollars spent there,

equals the in-state tuition of six
students for an entire acadenr-
year. And that's just one case.
The University investigates at
least 300 cases a year, hearing
about 100.
The code is an attempt to
sanitize the educational process,
which, in turn, destroys it. How
can our community thrive on
free and open debate when tth
University sees itself as a pun -
tive body? When the code and
its supporting policies are used
to squelch free speech, elimi-
nate due.process and dictate our
community's values, anyone
who cares about the value of
education has cause for con-
cern.
At the regents meeting Ap
20 and 21, the University will
try to make the code (with the
revisions made by the panelists
in the January amendment hear-
ing) a permanent fixture in the
life of the students. That would
entail extending the 30-mile ju-
risdictional radius to an infinite
radius for the code, meanin
that even if a Michigan stud
in Rome over the summer and a
local wants to charge you under
the code, he can.
The University and unac-
countable panelists hold your

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