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February 17, 1995 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-02-17

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 17, 1995

1lle Lidigan &il g


_ T



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

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

Graduate in four years ...
then go on to kindergarten

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion ofa majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters, and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
ng on ps/fal
Ejiminating option not a proper solution

Nearly every LSA student knows what it
is like to suffer through the college's
four-semester. foreign language requirement.
Students take pains to lessen the burden:
Testing out of the requirement or opting for
pass/fail are two of the most popular meth-
ods. Why do students dread this require-
ment? Often the classes are dry and boring,
dragging along at a snail's pace. Hardly any-
one speaks in class, does homework or cares
about verb conjugation.
Some believe that the low quality in for-
eign language classes, particularly in the
fourth and final semester of the requirement,
is caused by the pass/fail option. They argue
that the students are unmotivated because
they are not graded, and are thus hindering
students who do want to learn the language.
In response to this problem, the LSA
curriculum committee has formulated a pro-
posal to eliminate the pass/fail option for
fourth-term language classes. While con-
cerns about the language requirement cer-
tainly need to be addressed, this limiting of
students' options is unacceptable. Other non-
concentration requirements - ROE, distri-
bution, writing requirements - have the
pass/fail option available, as well as the other
three semesters of language. Students should
have to meet these requirements -but should
not have to worry about GPAs in the process.
Those worried about the quality of the
foreign language classes have a legitimate
concern -many of the classes leave much to

be desired. Degree of difficulty varies from
language to language. In some classes stu-
dents barely pass; in others students breeze
through even without the pass/fail cushion.
The University needs to re-evaluate the
foreign language requirement in terms of
consistency and achievement. Classes need
to be challenging -- but not oppressive -
across the board. The University needs to
look into ways of improving this require-
ment without infringing upon the basic aca-
demic option of pass/fail. Also, it must real-
ize that removing one semester of pass/fail
will not improve the program. Class partici-
pation, attendance and motivation will not
show great increases unless the University
improves the language programs as a whole.
Furthermore, this program claims to leave
students "proficient," but does not make them
fluent. Students would have a better attitude
toward the language requirement, tedious as it
is, if they could come away from it with a skill.
Fluency should be the ultimate goal of the
However, despite the drudgery of fulfill-
ing it, the foreign language requirement must
continue to exist. Today it is important that
students learn another language, and with it
another culture. Fluency in a second lan-
guage can open many doors of opportunity.
The University must find a better solution
than the proposed quick-fix measure. An
overhaul of the requirement, as well as the
foreign language programs, is appropriate.

A recent University graduate walked
into a job interview in a major metro-
politan area. The interviewer immediately
noticed that the graduate was wearing a
beret and decided to use it as a conversa-
tion starter.
"C'est un beau chapeau," the inter-
viewer said. "Parlez-vous frangais?"
"Oui," the applicant answered eagerly.
"J'adore la langue frangaise."
"Quand 1'avez-vous apprise?"
'A .'Universit6 du Michigan. Je l'ai
6tudi6 pendant quatre semestres."
The interviewer smiled. "You really
like French, don't you?" she asked.
"Like yeah," the graduate replied.
"They totally learned us it in college."
-0- -
OK, so the story is, technically speak-
ing, not true - nobody wears berets these
days. But the conversation is frighten-
ingly possible.
The University seems intent on teach-
ing students a foreign language, at the
expense of more useful curricula.
To graduate from LSA, a student must
take four semesters of a foreign language.
(That is, unless you major in something
called General Studies, and if that doesn't
scream out "BULL MAJOR!" then
nothing does.) In comparison, no econom-
ics classes are required. A student could
conceivably go through four years at this
school and never know the difference be-

tween supply and demand. Of course, the
student would have to know how to conju-
gate, which is about as worthwhile as
being able to lick your toes.
Knowledge of economics isn't the only
skill being overlooked. Writing is all but
dismissed here. An astonishing number of
University students can't frame a simple
sentence. Part of the reason is that the only
required writing class (besides the easily
fulfillable Junior/Senior Writing Require-
ment) is English 125, which, while helpful,
really doesn't teach you to write clearly and
concisely. And writing concisely is helpful
- even necessary - in almost any job.
Think of it. When was the last time you
heard a successful Older Person say, "You
know, I never need to know anything about
economics. And writing-who needs com-
plete sentences? The secretto my success is
my ability to speak German."
Speaking a foreign language is a valu-
able skill. But four semesters?
The University is considering a pro-
posal to eliminate pass/fail for the fourth
semester of a foreign language. The "think-
ing" behind the proposal is that students
who take the fourth semester pass/fail
tend to do a full grade worse than their
GPA-affected colleagues. The reason for
this gap is as simple as Dan Quayle -
many students have no desire to take the
fourth semester of a language, so they take
it pass/fail to avoid doing any extra work.

Forcing the students to take the fourth
semester for a grade would certainly make
them work harder. But is that the goal? To
make students work hard at something
they do not enjoy and have no great need
for or interest in learning?
A simpler way to solve the problem
would be to diversify the requirements.
Instead of a four-semester foreign-lan-
guage requirement, the University would
be better served by having students fulfill
three of the following four requirements:
1) Two semesters of a foreign language.
2) Two economics classes - 201 (mi-
cro) and 202 (macro).
3) Two writing classes - English 125 as
well as a class with a more structured format.
News writing (Communication 290) would
be an excellent choice, as it teaches impor-
tant skills with hands-on experience. With
the communication department disintegrat-
ing before our eyes, news writing is one
course that must be saved.
4) Two political science classes one
on the United States (probably Il1) and
one on world politics (probably 160).
With this format, students would actu-
ally have more requirements. But they
would also have more opportunities, and
would be able to avoid one of the four
requirements if they so desired. The result
would be a more well-rounded education.
Isn't that why we have requirements in
the first place?


After the Minimum Wage increase:
I r
1'~P PA8ID NC-

"The University
claimed that it
put much
stronger fiscal
control on the
department. ... If
that is stronger
and this happens
it just makes
us look silly."
--- Jonathan Friendly,
director ofthecMasters in
Journalism program, on
the co-mingling of public
and private funds by a
former Communication
Department lecturer

In-state appeal
'U' must review residency applications fairly


Approximately six lawsuits per year are
brought against the University contest-
ing residency status of a student, according to
University spokeswoman Lisa Baker. The
University has yet to lose a suit. This could
indicate that the vast majority of claims to
residency are unfounded, though these six
people a year feel strongly enough to take it
to court. Or it could mean that the University,
in all its power, has the final say in residency
cases - fair or unfair.
The University's residency requirements
are among the strictest in the nation. Careful
screening of residency applicants is under-
standable, as Michigan taxpayers rightfully
have priority access to this state school. If it
were easy to obtain in-state status, the entire
nation would be clamoring to go to this
quality institution for a bargain price. How-
ever, the University may overlook legitimate
cases in its zeal to weed out residency fraud.
Not every student is scheming to cheat the
University out of its exorbitant out-of-state
tuition rates.
One of residency applicants' major com-
plaints is the shroud of mystery surrounding
the process. Students are given a list of fac-
tors that might count toward residency sta-
tus, and a lengthy paper trail to compile.
They are also asked to write an essay explain-
ing that they came to Michigan for reasons
other than "educational purposes" - i.e. the
University - and that they intend to stay
here after completing college.
One of the most troubling aspects of the
residency issue is the one-year requirement.
Last year a federal appeals court ruled that
universities cannot base a decision to charge
a higher tuition rate solely on the length of
time a student has lived in a state. The panel
of judges asserted that universities violate
the equal-protection clause of the 14th

Amendment by basing residency status on
the time students have lived in-state. Yet it is
explicitly stated on the residency application
that students cannot apply for residency for a
specific term until they have lived here one
year to the day preceding the first day of
classes of that term. A student with a substan-
tial and immediate claim must wait a year to
prove it. With this policy, the University
stretches - if not violates - the ruling.
Furthermore, student applicants are un-
aware of what constitutes residency. Appli-
cations are returned, marked accepted or
denied - with no explanation. The decisions
are made subjectively, with sketchy criteria.
One must wonder about the process of re-
viewing the applications - are they care-
fully inspected or categorically denied?
Robert Silverman, a University student, is
suing the University for the difference be-
tween in-state and out-of-state tuition. His
case has been bogged down by technical
proceedings. The University contested the
court in which Silverman filed his suit, creat-
ing a delay and costing him more money.
Legally the University is correct to pursue
these minor issues - but ethically it should
know when to back off.
The University's power to tie up proceed-
ings in bureaucracy is disproportionate to the
power of the individual trying to secure his or
her legal rights. Many people would choose
not to contest the University because they
cannot afford to pit themselves against a big
In considering residency applications, the
University must remember that its decisions
have real impact on the lives of its students.
It must not take advantage of its powerful
position to block students from fair consider-
ation. The issue at the heart of residency
disputes must not be money, but fairness.


Free speech
not at issue in
Baker case
To the Daily:
I have been generally encour-
aged by the improvements the
Daily has been making in MSA
coverage. However, before it
goes down on the permanent
record that I advocated restric-
tions on free speech, I would like
to correct a misquotation ("MSA
condemns suspended student, 'U'
in resolution," 2/8/95). My state-
ment was that student rights are
paramount, but that a clear-and-
present-danger doctrine should
be applied to the repercussions of
such speech. This is not some
authoritarian idea; it is legal pre-
cedent in the United States.
Free speech is not something
that should be restricted. To say
that free speech is undesirable or
harmful in itself would be ludi-
crous. Ourcountry has a long and
famous tradition of freedom of
expression. However, to the ex-
tent that such speech presents a
possible hazard to someone's
safety, or society's safety, it is
normally subject to criminal or
civil prosecution. The doctrine
of clear and present danger pro-
posed by Supreme Court Justice
Oliver Wendell Holmes is exem-
plified by the example of shout-
ing "fire" in a crowded movie
theater. In the case of Jake Baker,
he was perfectly free to say what
he said. There should be no pros-
ecution on account of the words

three-ring circus. First, Jake
Baker violates the dictates of
common sense and decorum and
posts a message of that nature.
He carelessly (or intentionally)
decides to give the victim in the
story a real name and address, of
a living person. Next, an alum in
Russia picks up the story and
expresses outrage (notwithstand-
ing the fact that the Usenet sec-
tion involved includes much
worse "literature" than that.)
That person forwards the mes-
sage to Maureen Hartford, who
then shows a copy to Julie
Neenan, president of MSA, in a
gross violation of confidential-
ity. Then the University acts in
violation of its own disciplinary
policy. The only person not at
fault in this imbroglio is the
Childishly shouting "free
speech" is not the answer in this
case. One would be hard pressed
to find someone arguing against
such freedom. I don't argue
Baker's right to say or write what-
ever he chooses. I do not support
the University's sudden and
unprecedented actions against
him. The proper arena for such
debate is in a law court, not a
kangaroo one.
Dante A. Stella
LSA senior
MSA representative
in the Jake
Baker debate
To the Daily:

son, named or not. If you don't
believe me, go to an airport and
say the word "bomb." The fact
that Baker used a newsgroup
only means that he published
his threat worldwide. And to
counter this by saying that
Baker's privacy has any part of
this is ludicrous. To say that the
Internet is private because you
have to gain access is the equiva-
lent of saying that the newspa-
per is private because you can't
read. Baker willingly signed
away the right to restrict his
personal correspondence, which
is the only thing that he could
arguably consider private.
The second misconception is
that no harm was caused by this.
If you are convinced that mere
threats do not constitute harm,
please talk to any woman in Ann
Arbor who has had to consider
the reality of a serial rapist in the
past few years. Now consider
that the story of your intended
rape and murder was published,
and that you knew someone in
your community had considered
this, even in a fantasy. Find that
woman and tell her to her face
that no harm has been done. My
own experience as a witness to an
incident of sexual harassmenthas
shown me how measurable and
real the damage can be.
This brings me to the final,
and most absurd, problem I have
encountered in the Daily. We all
know your editorial staff hates
the code. You have effectively
beaten that to death. Stop reach-
ing to make that relevant to the
situation with Baker. The code

and without breaking my agree-
ment of confidentiality, I can say
that in my experience the hearing
was carried out with great pro-
fessionalism, thoroughness and
a very obvious concern for hear-
ing the concerns and questions of
both sides in the incident. This
format, however, takes consider-
able time, and precludes the code
from use in emergencies. So com-
plain about it if you want, but
unsupported ad hominem attacks
on Mary Lou Antieau and at-
tempts to include your agenda in
unrelated issues are not the stuff
of professional journalism. Be-
cause of your whining, we actu-
ally have letters to the Daily
which imply that Duderstadt,
Antieau and the Kremlin are all
involved iri a massive con-
spiracy to restore the Evil Em-
pire in Ann Arbor! Thanks.
Your mission should be to
clarify the campus issues , rather
than trying to obscure them with
your petty agendas. Try some-
thing like this: The Internet,
whatever it is, is not private,
conspiracy to commit kidnap-
ping and murder, if this is what
Baker has done, is not protected
under the First Amendment,
Bylaw 2.01 and Baker's case
have nothing to do with the code,
and Mary Lou Antieau and
Duderstadt are probably not
Communist operatives.
Cynthia Jeanne Manson
Business School graduate
Finding irony

Vice President for Student Affairs Maureen A. Hartford
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
6015 Fleming Administration Building


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