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March 07, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-07

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 7, 1995

c 1 e Fin
at7iv

JEAN TWENGE

THE ERASABLE PEN

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

I scam, therefore l'am.laA
road map for social success

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.
Glovernors Mpet
Engler unfairly enriches MSU in budget

Breaking 20 years of equal funding in
creases for the University of Michigan
and Michigan State University, Gov. John
Engler is proposing to grant Michigan State
$10.4 million beyond the 3-percent flat in-
crease for both schools. The funding differ-
ence is supposed to account for discrepancies
-in per-pupil funding. If these allocations are
approved by the state Legislature, it would
set a dangerous precedent by forcing the
schools to compete for funding..
The Legislature should allocate funds
equally to the University and Michigan State
University. Both schools fulfill crucial func-
Lions in the state's higher-education system,
and one should not be favored over the other.
Engler has attempted to justify the in-
crease as an attempt to bridge differences in
per-pupil spending. But the argument misses
a central point: There is no need to ensure that
state universities receive exactly equal fund-
ing for every student. If the state Legislature
is truly distressed over discrepancies in per-
pupil funding, why doesn't it attempt to equal-
ize per-pupil funding between the University
and Wayne State University in Detroit, where
per-pupil funding is higher than in any other
institution in the state? The answer, quite sim-
ply, is that the University and Wayne State
University are two entirely different schools,
with different missions, catering to different
needs. Likewise, the University and Michigan
State University are distinct, with different
needs and different missions. The number of
pupils in a school, while an important indicator
of a school's funding needs, are not the only

such indicator. Perhaps it would be more re-
vealing to note the amount of money universi-
ties bring into the state economy. The Univer-
sity directly brings in $2.5 billion to the state.
The difference in funding allocations has
already left university officials scrambling to
answer House Chairperson of the Subcom-
mittee on Higher Education Donald Gilmer's
inquiry about "why (university officials)
believe they should be entitled to more.,,
Indeed, the governor's budget proposal has
sharpened the rivalry between University and
Michigan State administrators. Last Friday,
Michigan State PresidentM. PeterMcPherson
insinuated that his university was accessible
to meet more students' educational needs
than the University. University President
James J. Duderstadt in turn claimed that the
University's financial aid program served to
make more education more accessible than
Michigan State University's pledge to keep
tuition low. This squabbling undermines the
inter-university harmony which is necessary
to meet the educational needs of the state. The
spirit of cooperation which has served to
further the availability of higher education in
this state is now in jeopardy.
Both the University and Michigan State
University serve vital functions for the state.
During the past 20 years, they have worked
together to meet the educational needs of the
state's population with equal funding in-
creases from the state government. Disturb-
ing that delicate balance only provokes need-
less bickering and competition for limited
state dollars.

camming may seem like an indelicate
art, but here in academia scamming is a
science. Step 1: Arrive at a party, looking
your best (e.g., the jeans that were washed
last month instead of last year). Step 2: Spot
your victim from across the room, looking
for the qualities which attract you in a mate
(e.g., "breathing"). Step 3: Think of some-
thing to say that is at once non-threatening,
witty, intelligent, caring, relevant, and does
not make it look like you are scamming,
though of course you are. Step 4: Say this
inspired line, and either a) keep talking or b)
get slapped. If b), repeat from Step 2. Don't
forget to lower your standards to a realistic
level.
In the post-college world, this game plan
has a Step 2 1/2: Surreptitiously sneak a
glance at your chosen one's left hand. If
there's a wedding band or engagement ring,
go back to Step 1. This is a very important
skill if you don't want rings waved in your
face until you finally get the picture. (It will
also save you from having a heart attack at
your first post-college party when you hear
someone say "my husband" and proceed to
go into shock right there on the dance floor.)
The problem is, of course, that wedding
rings don't tell the whole story. Some couples
who come to parties manage to walk around
like Siamese twins the entire night, but in
general it's difficult to tell who'sjustfriends,
who's dating, and who's been living to-

gether so long they're practically common
law.
In this complicated time of confused
relationships, what we really need is Rela-
tionship Signsm. (As seen on TV.)
The possibilities for signs are endless:
M "We are not dating." When you have
lots of male friends like I do, this one is
absolutely necessary - especially when
my male friends are helping me scam.
Closely related to "Just good friends even
though we slept together once."
"You! Leave!" It's always difficult to
tactfully tell someone to crawl down a hole
and never come out. So why say it? This
sign is otherwise known as."Let's just be
friends" and "Don't even think about it."
Homer Simpson put it the best, however:
"Six simple words: I'm not gay, but I'll
learn."
"I'm with stupid." This would save
bickering couples the time and effort of
humiliating each other in public-because,
of course, the "teasing" is just a convenient
way of saying "I'm with this guy but ain't
happy about it. Hit on me while he's in the
bathroom."
"Yes, but it's long distance, so come
here. Now!" How else can you truthfully
answer the question "Are you dating any-
one?" when you've gone entire months
without seeing them? Your hormones will
catch up with your brain eventually.

* "Only looking for a one-night stand."
It's time for us to stand up and be honest
about what we really want. Other possibili-
ties include "I don't care who you are. Will
you marry me?" or specific requests: "Sen-
sitive Ponytail Men Only," "No Losers,"
etc.
Some signs would be required for
truth in advertising: for example, "This
Rolex is fake," "One word: Clairol," and
"Ask me about my implants." Others would
tell the truth about all of those suspi-
ciously happy couples - the ones who
look like they've never had a fight. (They're
out there somewhere, just waiting to stroll
by with smiles on their faces as soon as
you're miserable.) These "perfect couples"
would be required to post tht ugly truth:
"Had a screaming fight over what kind of
bread to buy," "under these clothes, he's
really fat," "holding out until I find some-
thing better," etc.
For only $10.95 additional, you can also
get Conversational AidesM. For example,
sometimes your sparkling wit sails right
over the heads of the ignorant people you're
talking to. "Joke< "your sign would
say, as you tastefully hold it over your head.
Required by the laws of public service would
be "B.S.ing completely" and "Yes, I al-
ways talk this much." This column, on the
other hand, needs a sign that says, "<
- Sarcasm. I think."

0*

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The great taboo
Revisit Social Security -before it's too late

NOTABLE QUOTABLE
"They have to
come back down
off their high
horse and meet
with the
grassroots folk."
--Rev. J.J. Perry,
president of the Baptist
Missionary and Educa-
tional State Convention,
on the disenfranchise-
ment of urban Democrats
from the party main-
stream

d 7 ..?:t illN

<E W5 RANGE,.
T JcrsARMH
OzCsz t LE'
e';z o w * ; I

T he last-second defeat of the balanced-
budget amendment in the Senate last
Week brought the issue of the Social Security
system back into the political arena. Often
skirted by politicians, this system is ailing
and in dire need of attention. The Social
Security system has often been referred to as
the third rail of American politics - touch-
iiig it is political suicide. Because of this
stigma, one of the most successful govern-
ment programs of the last century has been
avoided in recent political debate. It is time to
break the taboo and revisit Social Security.
The Social Security system, conceived in
1935 during the Great Depression, has helped
to effectively deal with society's retired and
elderly for the last 60 years. Envisioning this
program, President Franklin D. Roosevelt
claimed: "We can never insure 100 percent
of the population against 100 percent of the
hazards and vicissitudes of life. But we have
tried to frame a law which will give some
measure of protection to the average citizen
and to his family against the loss of a job and
against poverty-ridden old age." Today 41
million Americans benefit from his great
vision. Roosevelt's political dream has been
transformed into social reality for generations.
But the system is in peril. Presently most
retirees receive far more than they put into the
Social Security system through years of taxes.
As of 1980, the average American had re-
ceived the equivalent of what he or she contrib-
uted to the system, in benefits, in less than four
years. As this cycle shortens, the system
becomes increasingly inefficient. Further-
tore, the number of those receiving the
fruits of the system rapidly increases in com-
parison to the number of those contributing
OW TO CONTACT THEM
University Regent Shirley McFee

to the system. As the monstrous baby boomer
generation approaches retirement in the com-
ing decades and as modern science increases
life expectancy, this problem will grow ex-
ponentially worse. The implications are scary
- the very future of the Social Security
system is in great peril.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to even
discuss reforming Social Security - a sa-
cred cow to the elderly. With 21 percent of
those who voted in the 1992 elections 60
years or older, the reason for this political
taboo becomes apparent. The recent attempt to
pass a balanced-budget amendment without
discussing the future of the Social Security
system - which accounts for $300 billion or
more than 20 percent of the country's annual
budget-combined with their vow not to raise
taxes demonstrates both the irresponsibility of
Republican legislators and the untouchable
nature of Social Security.
Politicians from both parties must stand
up and address this unpopular problem. Means
testing - lessening the benefits of those who
least need them - has been suggested to
revamp the Social Security system. Signifi-
cantly it was recently found that 6 million
American families with annual incomes
higher than $50,000 received $81 billion in
government benefits, primarily from Social
Security. That is $81 billion gone to waste.
The Social Security system has effectively
aided America's impoverished and elderly for
the past 60 years and is worth preserving. As
time passes the system falls further into cri-
sis. It is said the Social Security system will
become completely insolvent some time be-
tween 2017 and 2036. This political hot po-
tato must be picked up immediately.

VIEWPOINT
Baker case raises disturbing questions

By Patrick A. Keenan
The pending case of United
States vs. Jake Baker raises a
number of profoundly disturbing
questions:
What arethe law enforcement
obligations of the University?
When should a case be
handled internally, and when
should government prosecutors
be brought in?
What words or ideas are so
abhorrent that they cannot be
spoken? Or written?
And if the words are written,
should the person uttering them
be punished? How? How se-
verely?
What are the rules that define
the relationship between a uni-
versity and the Department of
Justice and its federal investigat-
ing agents?
When compared to other stuff
in the sex nooks and crannies on
the Internet, Baker's tasteless, de-
meaning, amateurishly lurid fan-
tasy is on the gross side of aver-
age for that specialized genre.
His use of the real name of a
classmate in a Japanese course
was stupid, uninformed, and very
likely subjects him to civil liabil-
ity. But did Baker really commu-
nicate an interstate threat?
Baker's fantasy is undeniably
tasteless, even shocking. But the
Internet is quite compartmental-
ized. In the normal course of
events, it is very likely that the
victim would never have learned

a lesser official) made a deci-
sion to make the story a nation-
wide cause celebr6 - a pre-
dictable, almost inevitable re-
sult of the University's public
prosecution of its student.
This explanation seems un-
likely at a University where the
issue of rape-murder is an all-
too-recent grim reality - a
tragic pall cast over one of the
nation's greatest public acad-
emies. The last thing Michigan
needs is to be held up nationally
as a harbor for a somewhat per-
verse pulp fiction writer, while
its hometown faces a series of
unsolved rapes and murders.
Ann Arbor is apparently the
place where a writer can be jailed
without bond, while a serial rap-
ist-murderer can be only slowly
apprehended. This is not meant
as a reflection on the Ann Arbor
city police or the University's
Department of Public Safety.
Rather it is a comment on the
vagaries that can occur in our
media-driven society.
Because it was made out to be
trendy, Baker's fictionalized
story on the Internet has been
disseminated infinitely more
widely than the real story of the
latest Ann Arbor serial rapist-
killer.
This first explanation -that
University officials purposely
chose to generate a cause celebre
- is somewhat alarming. In ret-
rospect, it may have not been the

sity employee. If true, this means
that the public positions taken by
University staff have been in the
nature of reactions to, or spin
doctoring of a story that got out
of control. This explanation is
likewise less than flattering to
the University administration.
Further, the University is
bound by the requirements of
FERPA, the federal Family Edu-
cational Right to Privacy Act.
The University is forbidden, ab-
sent an explicit waiver by the
student involved, to release in-
formation about any one of its
students to the public.
But again, the questions arise:
When? How often? How much
information?Obviously informa-
tion provided law enforcement
officials should not be shared
with the public. Next question:i
Who decided to bring in the fed-
eral authorities? Did the FBI just
call up one day and say, "Say,
this case looks like something
we should be investigating"? Or
did an irate citizen call the Justice
Department with a tip about ram-
pant crime in Ann Arbor? Or had
someone from inside the Univer-
sity decided to bring in the feds,
even though Baker was facing
summary suspension? He was
ejected from East Quad and es-
corted "off campus" Feb. 2.
Baker made no secret of his
ugly musings. He apparently vol-
unteered his password. He ap-
parently helped the University

University's student discipline
system, probably sentenced to
undergo psychological counsel-
ing, and allowed to continue his
studies. A week later, on Feb. 9,
U.S. Attorney Saul Green con-
venes a press conference. Sud-
denly Baker faces afederal felony
charge of knowingly transmit-
ting a threat to injure in interstate
commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.
Code Sec. 875(c). FBI agents
arrested him in Ann Arbor about
30 minutes before the hearing to
determine his eligibility to return
to classes.
Bail is usually denied to ac-
cused murderers, terrorists
charged with bombing the World
Trade Center and major drug
dealers. But transmitting a gross,
demeaning, ugly fantasy in a
medium where the person named
would probably never know she
was "threatened"?
Unusual. And how did the;
dangerous threat come tobe com-
municated? The communication
of the threat was aided and abet-
ted by the actions of the Univer-
sity, considered or inadvertent.
And if Baker is such a pressing,
dangerous, public menace, why
did the University police and ad-
ministration suspend him from
school, and then turn him out into
Ann Arbor, to range around un-
checked while the FBI continued
its investigation?
All the students at the Univer-
sity, women and men, have ac-

University Regent Andrea Newman
(P..Ann Arhnrl

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