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March 01, 1995 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-01

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4- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 1, 1995

(be £id"igun &tivg


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

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

Sometimes, a little bit of
change can go a long way



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.
Twiddling thumbs
Code amendments should be released

M ore than four weeks ago, the University
finally succeeded in convening a panel
to hear amendments to the Statement of Stu-
dent Rights and Responsibilities, otherwise
known as the code. After three failed attempts
at a meeting, a quorum -26 of the 50 student
panelists - showed up at last to make changes
to this code of non-academic conduct.
What changes did they make? Nobody
knows. At least, nobody except the panelists
and people in the Office of Student Affairs,
and they're not telling.
Convening the hearing to consider amend-
ments was a rare positive step in the long
student-administration tangle over the code.
Had this hearing failed once again to attract a
quorum of panelists, any hope of amending the
document - at least with student input -
would have virtually died. However, the hear-
ing itself was only a beginning. Only when the
results are released can students know whether
they will truly benefit from the changes.
Several amendments were proposed at the
hearing, covering everything from code juris-
diction to the amendment process itself. Some
amendments, such as allowing attorneys to
speak for accused students, were reasonable
and necessary. Others, such as expanding the
code'sjurisdiction beyond the current 30-mile
radius, were cause for worry. Speculation about
the amendments has been plentiful, but until
the results of the voting are revealed, specula-
tion is all that can be expected.
The delay in releasing the results is prepos-
terous. Over the past month, Vice President for
Student Affairs Maureen A. Hartford repeat-
edly promised the amendments would be re-

vealed "soon" - but all of February has gone
by and students are still waiting. Before spring
break, she promised to release the results at the
beginning of this week. But they have yet to
appear, and Hartford is now gone on a Carib-
bean cruise.
There is no good explanation for this wait.
While compiling and organizing the amend-
ments - the reason Hartford has blamed for
the delay - is important, ample time has been
given for that process. These amendments will
have direct impact on students' lives, and
informing students of the changes should be a
high priority in the amendment process. Stu-
dents must have a chance to review and react
to the changes before they are taken to the
University Board of Regents for final approval
- which Hartford has stated she plans to do at
the April regents' meeting.
There are two possible explanations for the
delay. Either Hartford does not place apriority
on informing students of the changes, or she
wants to hide the information to avoid dealing
with student reaction. Either way, her behavior
is unacceptable. Hartford's title is vice presi-
dent for student affairs. She is neglecting her
responsibility to students.
For two years - since the code's imple-
mentation in 1993- students have waited to
make changes to the code. Through failed
attempts at amendment hearings and the
University's slowness in calling new meet-
ings, amendment sponsors held out hope that
their proposals would be reviewed. Now that
changes to the code have finally been consid-
ered, they must be released to the public. The
wait has been far too long.

A mong the 10 of us, we covered eight
different majors, and probably 10 dif-
ferent future professions. We mostly came
from well-to-do backgrounds. And we all
wondered what we can do about
homelessness, so togetheron an alternative
spring break, we went to Atlanta.
Around me, there seemed to be a lot of
people who didn't care about the homeless.
Then there were those who cared, but didn't
do anything about it. All the while, I saw
how immense the problem is. And I realized
that an immense problem surrounded by a
bunch of people who don't care about solv-
ing it leads to absolutely nothing. There are
few things in life more frustrating that see-
ing 20,000 homeless in one city and know-
ing you can do little about it.
Some people, however, care a lot. These
are the people who spend a night each week
making sure men get fed. They take care of
kids while their mothers find work. They
help men and women make resumes and get
interviews. They fight legislation. They
know the problem. These people help. If but
just a little, they do help.
Sometimes the help would come from
those who can't help.
I met Eugene in a shelter. He has a wife
and three kids in New Orleans and still
recalls having a home because it wasn't that
long ago. Wandering through the park, he'd
wonder why all the homeless lay on the
benches. Like the rest of us, Eugene would
keep walking. Sometimes he'd stop and
give a dollar. What was he to do?

Now Eugene is on the other side. Home-
less, he has a lot of ideas on how to change
things. They are good ideas, but who listens
to Eugene? He told me he would coordinate
a system between different shelters to pre-
vent freeloading. I wish someone with power
had Eugene's ideas.
Eugene is one of 20,000 homeless in
Atlanta, one of some 4 million in the nation.
Every one of these people has his or her own
story, his or her own predicament. And
every person has a different solution. It is
such an immense problem, I kept thinking.
How will it ever be solved?
Things began to fall into place with a
simple remark from an un-simple man. Joe
Houston, a counselor at the Task Force for
the Homeless, gave a tour showing us cat
holes, boarded-up homes, makeshift shacks
and leveled low-income housing. He showed
us how Atlanta is changing and whom it is
He'd always tell us the good aspect of
any change, and often it was good, but Joe's
perspective was best because he knew the
bad side, too. He knows the effects govern-
ment action will have, and he thinks about
its implications to everybody. Joe should be
in city government.
I wondered how we could pay him back
for the insightful tour because we learned a
great deal in two short hours. Yet two hours
to show 10 college kids around Atlanta
takes a large block from Joe's day. As he
was leaving the van, he wished us good luck
in our careers. "And may you have a social

conscience in your careers, whatever they
may be," he said. I realized our promise to
do so was all the payment Joe desired.
Most students on this campus will be
graduating soon, some much sooner than
others, and then we go into the real world.
The real world has lots of problems; too
often they seem overwhelming.
It is tough to think that we cannot help
everybody. And hanging on to the satisfac-
tion of making a difference in your own way
doesn't stop other injustice from continu-
I wish some Atlanta city officials had
gone on an alternative spring break dealing
with the homeless. They would know some
of the guys involved in unjust labor pools
and they would have met people they're
arresting to make the city look better. Maybe
they would think differently when making
city laws. Maybe things would be better, if
just by a little bit.
I hope for social conscience in every-
body; and I can control it in myself. In my
profession, and in Karen's,- Kendra's,
Rachel's, Carrie's, Kristin's, Oliver's,
David's, Fred's and Deosil's, we will be
making decisions that affect other people.
Now we know a bit more about broad impli-
cations. We befriended many homeless. We
know their stories. Maybe we can help.
Saving the satisfaction of knowing that
I will change things within my realm of
influence lessens the frustration. It's what I
can hang onto. Things will be better, even if
just by a little bit.


- '-4



"It's an economic
dagger pointed at
the heart of the
- Kathleen McShea;
press secretary to Sen.
Carl Levin (D-Mich.), on
the balanced budget

Locking up the problem
New prisons won't solve crime troubles

T welve years and $1 billion after undertak-
ing a statewide prison expansion, Michi-
gan is exactly 12 years older and $1 billion
porer than before. But is it safer? Not much,
,cording to crime statistics. As Michigan's
prison population again swells to capacity,
Gov. John Engler has stumbled on a not-so-
novel "solution": Build more prisons. This
politically popular but shortsighted measure
will do little to remedy Michigan's crime
problem. The money could be better spent
Engler has asked the Legislature to spend
$205 million to add 5,500 beds to the state's
corrections system. His proposal comes in
response to mounting pressure from local prison
officials to head off predicted overcrowding in
the system. Their concerns are legitimate, but
Engler's response illustrates a fundamental
misunderstanding about crime: Lock 'em up
and crime will go away.
The trouble is, it won't. Even though Michi-
gan has the sixth-highest incarceration rate in
the United States and ranks second in prison
spending per capita, it has the 19th-highest
crime rate. Violent crime has tapered off some-
what, but not necessarily because of prison
construction. In fact, 69 percent of prisoners
now are incarcerated for property or drug
crimes - up from 57 percent in 1979.
The influx of nonviolent criminals is in-
deed straining the state's prisons. Here in
Washtenaw County, Sheriff Ron Schiebel an-
nounced that some nonviolent prisoners would

bereleasedto ease overcrowding. While viewed
by some as a solution to prison overpopula-
tion, in reality Schiebel's move is a stopgap
measure and nothing more.
In the long term, the state must find solu-
tions to the spiraling incarceration rate. Many
nonviolent offenders are being needlessly jailed
when there are better ways to pay their debt to
society. It makes no sense to confine petty
criminals to prison, where their stay behind
bars will do little or nothing to rehabilitate,
them. Furthermore, small-time drug offenders
-the occasional marijuana smoker who harms
no one but himself - should not be clogging
the state's prisons and bleeding taxpayer
Michigan's limited resources should be
directed away from new prison construction to
programs that prevent crime from taking place
at all. Educating children in blighted urban
schools is crucial to breaking the cycle of
poverty and crime that feeds the prisoners'
ranks. The state also must take more responsi-
bility for soon-to-be released prisoners, who
all too often are returned to the streets without
rehabilitation or a proper transition process.
Jail is and should be central to the nation's
criminal justice system. But funds should not
be dumped into the black hole of prisons when
they can be put into education and crime
prevention. Engler's so-called solution will
not fix the problem of crime in Michigan.
Instead, it shoves it out of the spotlight without
taking any real action toward improvement.


Bosnian Mobile 'U' hits close to home

By Ephraim R. Gerstein
Most of us, upon seeing yet
another article on the former
Yugoslavia, brush over it on our
way to the sports section. Yet
amid the seemingly meaningless
carnage, glimmers of hope some-
times emerge that exemplify the
individual and very human
struggle to bring something posi-
tive to this war-torn area. The
Mobile University of Bosnia is
one that hits close to home.
This idea was the brainchild
of John Fine, a professor here at
the University, and other mem-
bers of the U.S. and world aca-
demic community. In commit-
ting to this project, they hope to
continue the flow of intellectual
life in the region despite the cur-
rent civil and military strife. In
Gerstein is an LSA first-year
student and a member of the
Daily editorial stafff

the hope of providing academic
contacts for Bosnian intellectu-
als, the Mobile University will
likely conduct workshops in vari-
ous branches of the humanities
and sciences.
This newspaper, particularly
on the editorial page, has a his-
tory of covering events in the
republics of former Yugoslavia;
it is a precedent that we have set.
It's a good thing we did, because
the events going on in this region
represent the single greatest act
of ethnic genocide and civil strife
since World War II. What goes
on in Serbia, Bosnia and
Herzegovinais absolutely acam-
pus issue. As thinking individu-
als, and members of the world
community, our focus extends
beyond the Diag, beyond Ann
Arbor, and this struggle in Eu-
rope is definitely our problem.
Unfortunately, when Americans
study the events of this region,

we tend to lose our sense of per-
spective. We get so mired in U.N. -
protocols and U.S. foreign policy
that we forget that this civil war is
in many ways an individual
struggle. There are people like
every one of us who wake up
each morning to the sounds of
shelling and machine guns, who
know little or nothing of world
policy, who merely want to live
in peace.
Around the world, there are
people who see this calamity as a
human crisis, and they are trying
to do their part, no matter how
great or small, to improve the
lives of people there. One such
person is John Fine. His efforts,
and those of his colleagues, will
not stop the violence. They will
not put food on the table of a
family starving because supplies
cannot pass over the besieged
roads leading to Sarajevo.
They will, however, give

Bosnian students the chance to
get an education. They will keep
intellectual thought alive in this
area of physical and moral break-
down. They may even provide
Bosnia with leaders for the future
once peace finally comes to the
Perhaps most important as far
as we are concerned: One of our
professors, a member of our com-
munity, is risking his safety and
comfort to help people who are
in many ways exactly like all of
us, but for their unfortunate situ*
ation. That is the main reason
why this issue-is so important,
and that is why it deserves our
I would like to applaud Prof.
Fine and his colleagues for their
efforts, and express the hope that
they reach fruition. He deserves
thanks for his service to us -as
citizens of this world. 0

Congress, 'U' should not give approval to homosexual activity

State Rep. Mary Schroer
(D-52nd district, North Campus)
99 Olds Plaza Building
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 373-1792

State Rep. Uz Brater
(D-53rd district, Central Campus)
412 Roosevelt Building
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 373-2577

To the Daily:
I am writing in response to
your editorial titled, "The Senate
Playground" (2/8/95) and the
"Kiss-In" on the Diag.
In your editorial, you unfairly
criticize Republicans Jesse
Helms and Dick Armey for their
"anti-gay" actions. You claim the

lic officials about homosexuality
is tolerable and probably neces-
sary. However, you are crossing
the line when you advocate
people to adopt the homosexual
You evidently failed to con-
sider the fact that it is homo-
sexual and bisexual men who -

rial staff at the Daily continues to
pass reckless and thoughtless
judgement on issues of great im-
portance. I recommend you not
jump to conclusions without hav-
ing the slightest notion of what
the implicationsmightbe. Aqual-
ity of excellent journalism is to
present both sides of an issue -

the Queer Unity Project and the
LGBPO to organize an event such
as the "Kiss-In," is an uttershame.
This is a gross injustice to thei
of M reputation and heterosexual
students, who, like myself, were
subjected to witness two male§
embrace and kiss each other,
while walking to class. Indecent

State Sen. Alma Wheeler Smith
(D-Washtenaw County)


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