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February 06, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-02-06

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 6, 1995

(The £IkictUn ?&zivg

R. CHo

BENEATH THE PALIMPSEST

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

MICHAEL ROSENBERG
Editor in Chief
JULIE BECKER
JAMEs NASH
Editorial Page Editors

Free speech vs. harassment:

0

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.
Beging the eston
Senate plan ignores true tuition concerns

Anew state Senate proposal to grant tax
deductions of up to $5,000 per year to
college students on their tuition at state schools
promises to make college education more ac-
cessible to thousands of Michiganders. Unfor-
tunately, the quality of the education they can
hope to receive under this plan may be com-
promised.
The plan, which promises a $1.6 billion
tax cut over the next five years, will reduce
taxes to students after their first year at school,
but with a catch - in order for a school to
participate, it must agree to keep tuition in-
creases at or below the rate of inflation. If
nothing else, the proposal is well-intentioned
- it is a noble attempt to help keep tuition
costs down and make higher education more
affordable.
The problem is that unlike many other
public schools in the state, the University
cannot comply with the demands of this
program, and therefore its students will be
denied the tax deduction.
Although the University should be com-
pelled to hold tuition to the rate of inflation, the
Senate's proposal is the wrong way to do it.
The University should cut costs and redirect its
funding priorities to undergraduate education
- goals that would not necessarily be fur-
thered by the Senate plan. The University must
take responsibility for its own spending. If it
were to attempt to save its students tax dollars
simply by holding tuition at the inflation rate
- without any cost-cutting measures to match
the lower tuition - the resulting budget gap
would cause great harm to the quality of
University education.
Furthermore, the Senate is asking the
University to keep tuition down without giv-
ing the University any extra funds to com-
pensate for the loss. The plan ignores the vast
discrepancies in state aid to Michigan univer-

sities, which strongly influences the tuition
rate. The Legislature has irresponsibly prom-
ised to offer tax refunds, but has not commit-
ted additional funds to schools the plan would
hurt. Universities, meanwhile, still are de-
pendent on unreliable - and often inad-
equate -- estimates of state aid in setting
budgets.
The Senate proposal has drawn protests
from University officials, who justifiably fear
losing their institutional autonomy under the
plan. The regents have a vested interest in
maintaining their control over the school,
and they have a legitimate concern whenever
the Legislature exercises unwarranted con-
trol over the budget and the ratio of in-state to
out-of-state students. The Senate plan does
exactly that.
The proposal is not just potentially detri-
mental to the school, it is by extension bad for
the state. As advantageous as it is to have a
college-educated population, it is equally dis-
advantageous to compromise the University.
There is no other public school in this state
that offers the caliber of education the Uni-
versity offers. By threatening to decrease this
quality, the Legislature is depriving the state
of an important educational resource, an im-
portant source of future leaders and a major
way of attracting new industries.
It is a worthy and noble endeavor of the
Legislature to keep educational costs down
and offer a college education to all qualified
individuals, but any plan that throws the
University to the wolves as this one does will
inevitably fall short of these ends. With this
proposal the University stands to lose a great
deal of its quality, a large measure of its
autonomy and scores of students. It ties the
school to a budget it cannot possibly live up
to, and in doing so greatly hurts the institu-
tion, the students and the state.

The University is infamous for crack-
ing down on speech it finds offen-
sive. In Doe v. the University of Michigan
(1989), a federal judge struck down a
University policy that banned any speech
that stigmatizes or victimizes an individual.
More important, students and faculty ob-
jected to the speech code because it caused
them to "censor themselves."
It is easier yet to criticize the Univer-
sity by calling Jake Baker the latest victim
of acrackdown by the University's thought
police. Baker is the linguistics sophomore
who was suspended last week for using
the name of a female University student in
what some people consider a prurient and
patently offensive tale of rape and murder
and then posting the story over the Internet.
Baker's plight is destined to spark con-
tentious debate among the public from
Rendez-Vous Cafe to the Walker Seminar
Room of Haven Hall. In this sad case free-
dom of expression over the "information
superhighway" has collided head on with
sexual harassment.
The fantasy, posted in December in a
file reserved for sex stories on the Internet,
was discovered by a University alum work-
ing in Moscow who then complained to
University officials. Baker has cooperated
with the University: He voluntarily under-
went two psychiatric evaluations. But
based on those evaluations President James

J. Duderstadt ordered Baker's suspension,
deeming the student a threat to the commu-
nity.
Evidently the University considered
the episode so serious that it bypassed the
oft-criticized Statement of Student Rights
and Responsibilities, the University's code
of non-academic conduct, which outlines
procedures and a hearing process to deal
with such cases. Duderstadt invoked a
rarely used regental bylaw that allows him
to take any action necessary to maintain
order on campus.
At first I was quick to condemn the
University for handing down an unduly
harsh punishment against Baker for writing
a seemingly innocuous sexual fantasy. I
saw it as yet another attempt to squelch
free speech. The University defends its
actions as appropriately harsh because
Baker had included the other student's
name in the story.
Law Prof. Catharine MacKinnon, an
expert on the First Amendment and vio-
lence against women, told the Detroit Free
Press that this is not a free speech issue but
that publishing the fantasy is a threat to the
female student.
Maybe Baker is indeed a danger to the
community. Maybe we should thank the
University for protecting us as students.
But the whole incident begs the question
of what restrains the University from cen-

suring any speech it finds offensive as a
"threat to the community" and the impli-
cations this has on the future of the code.
How far are we willing to go in regulat-
ing and monitoring speech to protect oth-
ers? In 1992 the Canadian Supreme Court
ruled that words and images that "de-
grade" women are "harmful" to them and
should be outlawed. Are we willing to
adopt this extreme standard advocated by
some feminists?
The University is expected to decide
today whether to withdraw the suspension
and allow Baker back on campus under
certain conditions. Before making that
decision, the University should remember
why it suspended Baker in the first place. If
he indeed poses a threat to the University as
originally stated I see no reason for his
return. If the University suspended Baker
simply because it yielded to outside pres-
sure to crack down on offensive speech,
then it seems the code no longer becomes
the Statement of Student Rights and Re-
sponsibilities but rather a code of responsi-
bilities with no student rights.
In a society dominated by public opin-
ion and interest groups, universities are
supposedly the last bastion of intellectual
freedom where all views can be freely
discussed and open to scrutiny without
reservations. Let's hope these are the ide-
als our great University still upholds.

0

3.

JIM LASSER

SHARP AS TOAST

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NoTABLE QUTABLE
"U-M is viewed in
Lansing as one of
the most
arrogant
institutions in the
country."
-State Sen. Alma
Wheeler Smith (D-Ann
Arbor)

""Wis
. ,-ir

In step
Student, faculty governments must cooperate

LETTERS

Israel oppresses Palestinians *

Last week, the Senate Advisory Commit-
tee on University Affairs elected Prof.
George Brewer its next chair. Brewer and
Prof. Thomas Moore, the incoming vice chair,
were elected in a smooth and low-key pro-
cess. Now that SACUA has its own house in
order, it is time for the group to begin work-
ing more closely with the student body on
issues of mutual importance.
For too long, the faculty and student body
have not coordinated their political efforts
well and the leaders of the respective govern-
ing bodies have not kept in communication
with each other. This lack of communication
undermines what otherwise would be a fruit-
ful relationship vis-a-vis the administration,
which often acts in opposition to the interests
of students and faculty. Additionally, in at-
tempting to achieve their goals, a unified voice
of the student body and faculty is much stron-
ger than either group acting alone.
The faculty and student body agree on
many important issues that place them in con-
flict with the administration. Foremost among
these is the Statement of Student Rights and
Responsibilities, better known as the code.
From the time the administration began draft-
ing the code, the faculty and student body
have opposed many similar parts. SACUA
subcommittees endorsed proposed changes
to the code that were proposed or supported
by MSA and the Civil Liberties Board. How-

ever, while there is agreement on changing
the code, no joint efforts have been made to
coordinate the fight against the code before
the Board of Regents. There is no question
that a unified and coordinated student -fac-
ulty voice would be more respected and in-
fluential than that of either group alone.
Another impending issue in which
SACUA and the student body have common
interest is the selection of a new provost. Not
only must both groups be included in the
selection process, but together SACUA and
the student body must ensure that their con-
cerns are addressed when reviewing candi-
dates.
Improving communication between the fac-
ulty and student body should not be very
difficult. The responsibility lies within SACUA
and MSA to take the lead in communicating
and coordinating joint action on behalf of their
respective constituencies. There is no ac-
ceptable reason both groups have not worked
closer together in the past, for each can greatly
help the other achieve their goals and address
their concerns. The faculty and student body
may disagree on many political issues that
are addressed by the administration. How-
ever, there are also many vital issues of
agreement on which the two groups should
closely work to improve the University com-
munity, so it better represents those it is
supposed to benefit.

Movie's point
escapes
audience
To the Daily:
Recently, I went to John
Singleton's latest film, "Higher
Learning." Filmmakers such as
Singleton make movies in order
to make a difference, to open
people's eyes, and hopefully
change the world by reaching the
audience. In order for change to
occur, however, their message
must firstbe properly understood.
I fear this prerequisite is not al-
ways accomplished, and this is
why I am writing this letter.
"Higher Learning" teaches
people to think critically, for
themselves, and through intro-
spection, respect and accept one-
self and others as individuals. As
I sat in the theater, however, it
seemed as though much of the
audience, about half African
American and half white, did not
understand this theme.
When I left the theater, I real-
ized that the audience had made
a bigger impression on me than
did the film itself. I watched and
listened as the audience jeered
the story's white supremacists
for their hatred toward African
Americans and other minorities.
They hissed and booed aloud, the
African American spectators es-
pecially vocal, expressing their
anger toward the intolerant an-
tagonists. And I admired the
audience's universal contemptfor
racism and prejudice. The Afri-
can American community, espe-
eiallv..must be vocal for there is

chooses to pursue both hetero-
sexual and homosexual relation-
ships. During one of the most
creatively edited sequences, the
audience sees the protagonist first
in bed with a male and then,
independent from him, with an-
other female. Suddenly the once
compassionate audience turned
on the sympathetic character.
They hissed and screamed at her
with all of the disgust and disdain
they conjured for the white su-
premacists earlier in the narra-
tive.
Were they not watching the
same movie as I? Did they forget
the point of the film in such a
short span? Suddenly the audi-
ence was practicing the very same
mentality that it previously con-
demned. For the African Ameri-
can community particularly, this
practice is counterproductive to
its efforts. How can we facilitate
change if we do not practice what
we preach? Even worse, how can
we expect to fix what we con-
tinue to break with our own
hands?
Tolerance.
To the homosexual commu-
nity, this sort of audience reac-
tion isas painful as a cheer for the
white supremacists would be too
African Americans. I suspect the
African American community
would not allow such a prejudi-
cial reaction to go unchallenged.
By condoning such responses,
the audience quickly takes two
steps backwards after Singleton's
painstaking step forward.
It's time to get the message
- the whole message. We are
1,M* Ol - IIV s nn r a - -

To the Daily:
In response to the "Peace in
the Middle East?" (1/25/95) let-
ter, the writer has painted a dis-
torted picture of the situation. If
we took a moment to consider
both sides rather than just one,
we would see that Palestinians
are also being killed on a regu-
lar basis. If one wants to com-
plain about Israel's difficult po-
sition , consider the Palestinian
people living in Gaza. They are
mostly refugees who have been
cut off from their homes, their
jobs, and basic human rights.
We agree with the writer on
one point; "peace" is taking on a
strange definition in the Middle
East. Real "peace" does not mix
with oppression and exploita-
tion. If you don't believe Israel
is exploiting the Palestinians,
scholarships fu
To the Daily:
I am responding to Damon
Jamaal Walker's viewpoint let-
ter of Feb. 3 ("Race-based schol-
arships necessary"). He failed to
prove how race-based scholar-
ships would help end racial dis-
crimination.
In fact, I think just the oppo-
site is happening. Talk to most
white students, and they will tell
you that they never had any nega-
tive feelings toward ANY race of
people until they (the white stu-
dents) were denied scholarships
because of color. Talk to most
white students, and they will tell
you that if it were not for race-
haseeA cchnharshins their nev-

why, amongst many other
things, is Israel expanding their
Jewish settlements in violation
of the peace agreements? The
Israeli government does not
have an ounce of compassion
for the Palestinians, meanwhile
the latter are struggling to eat a
decent meal, drink clean water
and find jobs. Their situation is*
the result of legislation by op-
pressive governments and lead-
ers in Israel and even in the PLO
and other Arab countries. The
peace treaty did not help the
Palestinians at all; if anything,
their situation has worsened.
They are still living in exile and
they have no protection from"-
further exploitation and dispos-4
session by Israel.
The Muslim Students
Association
rther racism
can American man, and the feel-
ings I sometimes experience put
our marriage through a struggle.
We are fairly poor; I am not nor
have I ever been a "rich white
girl." Yet, I cannot get much be-
sides loans from the University.
Don't get me wrong, I still
love diversity, and I hate myself
for having any kinds of negativ-
ity toward anyone else. But I
think that as long as any one race
gets any kind of special treat-
ment, racism will exist in
America. The only sure way to
end racism is TOTAL AND
COMPLETE EQUAL TREAT-
MENT OF PEOPLE OF EV-

How TO CONTACT THEM
Interim Ombudsman Jennifer Walters
Office of the Ombudsman
3000 Michigan Union
76X3545

I

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