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March 27, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-27

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 27, 1995

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

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

Building coalitions where
ethnic divisions prevail

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.
Wriat: Wrong
Embatted MSA representative should resign

E arlierthis semester, observers ofthe Michi-
gan Student Assembly witnessed Rep.
Andrew Wright face allegations that would
eventually lead to dismissal from his post as
External Relations Committee chair. In doing
this, MSA acted within the lines of a profes-
sional governing body worthy of respect from
constituents. Now, as new allegations arise
that directly implicate Wright in an anony-
mous donation to the assembly, Wright should
voluntarily step down from MSA.
It would be difficult to argue that Wright is
not an asset to MSA. His efforts as ERC chair
are to be commended. His bid for the City
Council, as well, was encouraging to all stu-
dents. Recent mistakes aside, Wright has been
a model MSA member, and should have con-
tinued as such, except that he committed the
ultimate act of political suicide by reclaiming
the anonymous donation.
It recently has been made public that Wright,
though he denied having any part in or knowl-
edge of the donation two months ago, earlier
this month signed for the $786 MSA declined
to accept. The money was given to MSA
anonymously with the stipulation that it be
used to send MSA representatives to a Big Ten
conference. Wright had a vested interest in the
trip, and when the donation was made in Janu-
ary, fingers immediately pointed at him. At the
time of his dismissal as ERC chair, MSA
lacked the evidence it has now and had to rely
on other reasons to justify the firing. At that
time, even his staunchest foes had to admit that

Wright still might not have had anything to do
with the donation. The facts now undeniably
link Wright to the money- raising serious
questions about his ethics.
The fact that Wright signed a receipt for the
$786 is no coincidence. Indeed, only the most
bumbling of politicians would accept the money
after claiming to have nothing to do with it two
months before.
In response to the new revelations, Wright
claims he is holding the money for an anony-
mous friend. However, if this person were any
friend at all, he or she would have another
representative pick up the money, and avoid
sacrificing Wright's political future on MSA.
It is clear, whether or not the $786 came
directly from Wright's pocket, he is connected
to it. Therefore he misrepresented himself
before the very body he serves.
In the thick pages of MSA's constitution,
there are no stipulations on what MSA itself
must do in a situation like this. The framers
surely would never expect a representative to
bribe his own organization. The only way
Wright's term can be ended is if he is not re-
elected in the fall elections. If Wright, how-
ever, believes in the integrity of MSA as a
governing body and does not want to risk
sullying its reputation, he will leave his repre-
sentative post immediately. Although the let-
ter of the constitution allows Wright to stay
aboard, he must find it within himself to abide
by the spirit, and do the most honorable thing:
resign.

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.),
in his recently published book "Pande-
monium: Ethnicity in International Poli-
tics," said ethnicity makes the world go
'round. And bleed. The fragmentation of
nations along ethnic lines dominates world
politics today from Iraq to the former Yugo-
slavia. In a similar way we are seeing the
Balkanization of the University among the
30 often-homogenous Asian American eth-
nic groups on campus. Thankfully they
haven't taken up arms in the fight for office
space in the Union - at least not yet.
Two weeks ago, nearly all Asian Ameri-
can students at the University received an
invitation asking them to attend a plethora
of events as part of Asian Pacific Ameri-
can Heritage Month. For some students,
the fliers went straight into the "mixed
paper only" recycling bin. But for others,
there was confusion, followed by ambiva-
lence: Which event should I attend and
why?
A calendar of events, replete with cute
photos of students singing and dancing,
included times and dates of select presen-
tations and concerts sponsored by dozens
of groups. April 1: Korean Cultural Arts
Festival. April 6: Taiwanese Cultural
Workshop. April 9: Chinese Cultural Fes-
tival.
Asian Americans, to the detriment of

our community, continue to emphasize
the differences without acknowledging the
similarities. Proliferating communities
have formed groups defined in terms of a
single trait - national origin. But are we
not sowing the dragon's teeth? Herein lies
the problem. The growth of ethnocentric
groups has fragmented and splintered the
Asian American community -- a popula-
tion that comprises more than 10 percent
of the student body.
What is the unifying principle between a
third-generation Japanese American
writer, a Thai medical student and a Ko-
rean political science major? Each is part
of a distinct community. What are the
political and cultural ties that can bridge
these differences?
The nearly 3,000 twentysomething
Asian American students at the University
share a few common traits and goals. Many
of us are the children of immigrants who
arrived after the government eliminated
Asian immigration quotas in the late '60s.
While we have been raised and educated in
this country, we have simultaneously been
inculcated with traditions and cultural quirks
by our bilingual parents.
Together we cope with high parental
expectations and try to dispel painful eth-
nic stereotypes perpetuated by an ignorant
society. Together we vehemently declare

our "Americanness" when subject to rac-
ist slurs. Together we strive to remember
our cultural heritage - asserting our dif-
ferences and strengthening our ethnic iden-
tities.
Slowly Asian Americans on this cam-
pus have gained momentum through in-
creased strength and credibility as groups
found common ground and shared goals.
For the first time, Asian American student
leaders have organized a unique program
to showcase not only the diversity within
the community but also the common bonds.
On Thursday, the United Asian American
Organizations is hosting a cultural program
called "Generation APA." This is coalition
building.
Self-segregating, isolationist ethnic
groups, while healthy in promoting indi-
vidual identity, tend to breed ethnocen-
tricity. You don't need to be a economics
major to know that cooperation yields
higher payoffs.
Individual action can't move mountains,
but the collective action of a united commu-
nity can certainly move universities, espe-
cially this one. Putting our differences aside,
we need to remember the similarities to
attack the broader issues -glass ceilings to
hate crimes and media-perpetuated stereo-
types - that continue to plague all Asian
Americans.

01

40

.--

i/ HfT OFWH O A R E
C to N A Rg

R

YOU'RE
It.
AI L.

"it's
disappointing that
we didn't win
(the NCAA
Championship),
but only in that
we lost to
Michigan."
- Brian Retterer,
Stanford senior swim-
ming co-captain, on
failing to produce a
fourthconsecutive
NCAA title

'Three Strikes' fouls out
Law burdens legal system, sets criminals free

TI

L,

hen the so-called "Three Strikes and
You're Out" crime law was introduced
in a number of states last year, there were grave
misgivings about its effect on the criminal
justice system. At least 13 states have three-
strikes laws and more than seven other states
are debating three-strikes bills. But it has be-
come evident, as opponents feared, that three-
strikes legislation hampers justice more than
improves it.
The original goal of "Three Strikes and
You're Out" was to make sure that convicted
criminals do the time they deserve. Once a
person was convicted of his third felony, he
would be locked away for good. It is obvious
that convicted felons should do the time they
deserve - inmates should not be released
from prison until they are deemed harmless to
society - but three strikes is a rash and inef-
fective solution to the problem.
The three-strikes law is causing serious
legal problems in California, whose legal sys-
tem is considered a testing ground for other
states. First, about 500 crimes are considered
felonious - from the ubiquitous possession
of a fake ID to murder. However, the three-
strikes bill makes little distinction between
felonies. A 27-year-old was sentenced to 25
years to life in prison for his third felony:
stealing a slice of pizza. In contrast, juries in
San Francisco have refused to convict people
of their third felony because they don't want to
hand down alife sentence, leaving the criminal
to walk free.
In other cases, defendants facing their
third conviction have refused to bargain with
prosecutors and the case ends up going to
trial. The new glut of cases now headed for
court because of this reason has swamped the
system in California. Before the law was en-
acted, 94 percent of all felony cases were

handled quickly by plea bargains. Since the
law's enactment, 14 percent of second felony
cases and 6 percent of third felony cases have
been handled by plea bargains. Prosecutors
are worried that some people may go free
because there is no room for a criminal trial
within the 60 days that the law mandates.
Judges from civil cases have been switched
over to criminal cases with little relief. This
further burdens a civil-trial system that has a
two-year waiting periodjust to seethe inside of
a courtroom.
Supporters of three strikes say there will be
a five-year logjam in implementing the law.
Once those repeat offenders are put away for
good, the court load should return to normal.
But that is no consolation. In terms of econom-
ics alone, this program is an enormous cost to
taxpayers. It is conceivable that a person can be
convicted of three felonies: purchase of mari-
juana, purchase or possession of cocaine and
possession of drug paraphernalia containing
drug residue -- all second degree felonies -
and be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
At the conservative figure of $10,000 a year in
jail, the taxpayers would be charged at least
$250,000 to incarcerate a drug addict. That
addict, once labeled ahabitual offender, pushes
out other dangerous first-time offenders on to
the street early to make room for him. The
response to these overcrowding problems is to
build more prisons, draining government bud-
gets of funds that should be used for better
purposes, like education.
Unfortunately, these examples are not ex-
ceptions. The trouble with three strikes is that
it is so rife with problems that the exceptions
become the norm. As a correctional measure,
as a "get tough" measure, as a "crackdown"
measure, whatever its label, "Three Strikes
and You're Out" is a crisis-in-waiting.

/

1 i l j . !
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_

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AC-

GOP Contract
harms poor,
education
To the Daily:
A letter supporting the Re-
publicans' Contract "on"
America ("'Lyric' off key on
politics," 3/23/95) recently ap-
peared in the Daily. As a con-
cerned citizen and member of the
Coalition Against the Contract
on America (CACOA), I feel it is
my responsibility to speak out
against this assault on America's
poor, minorities, education sys-
tem and environment. We live in
a country that claims to be the
"vanguard force" in protecting
democracy and human rights, yet
these new measures falsify this
statement and make us a nation
of heartless hypocrites.
Let us look at the facts: This
contract will further marginalize
our nation's poor, minorities,
elderly, and children in the form
of cutbacks in school lunch and
breakfast programs, food
stamps, WIC, Medicare, Med-
icaid, veteran's benefits, afford-
able housing and assistance, and
assistance to those who are blind
or disabled. These cuts are ac-
companied by large benefits to
the wealthy. For example, there
is a proposal to make two-thirds
ofcapital gains tax-exempt which
would amount to $25 billion,
almost half of which would end
up in the pockets of the wealthi-
est 1 percent of Americans.
Only 38 percent of Ameri-
cans voted in the last election. Of

said "He not busy being born is
busy dying."
if we don'tdo something soon
to revitalize the call forcivil rights
and equality, it will surely die.
The time for action is now!
Scott Farrell
LSA junior
'Level playing
field' still
eludes us
To the Daily:
In his letter in the March 17
edition of the Daily, ("Sexism by
any other name is still sexism")
Randall Juip, apparently fulfill-
ing his responsibilities as presi-
dent ofthe Michigan Men's Club,
demonstrates a lack of knowl-
edge of both the context and goals
of affirmative action. Does Mr.
Juip assume a level playing field
is automatic? If not, how exactly
does he propose to level the play-
ing field where women are sys-
tematically denied the wages and
promotion opportunities of men?
If he has another idea, the world
is waiting to hear exactly how to
go about solving the injustices of
racism and sexism.
The problem is, Mr. Juip does
not have an alternative, and
frankly, seems not to seethe prob-
lem. Sexism is not "some vague,
historical injustice," but a reality
that women face every day.
Women, who comprise 52 per-
cent of the American population,
hold 5 percent of top administra-
tive jobs in this country; as Mr.
Juip proudly proclaims, "The

ishment; it's not about him. If
Mr. Juip is correct in his asser-
tion that it is punishment to be
denied a job on gender grounds,
what is itforawoman? He seems
to feel that this type of "punish-
ment" is to be reserved for
women alone; no wonder he
feels threatened by Ms. Eriksen.
Mr. Juip says that he has
never benefited from the "ma-
ligned hiring practices" of the
dominant male power structure.
We doubt that he is concerned
enough by these maligned prac-
tices to have ever paid attention
to his personal job competitors
and their qualifications. Women
are disempowered in ways that
Mr. Juip has never had to face;
how many times has he been
told, "Boys can't do math, boys
can't be president"? We doubt
Mr. Juip is informed regularly
that his dreams and goals are
silly.
Mr. Juip closes his letter with,
"Men are better than women at
some things, and women are bet-
ter than men at some things."
This sounds remarkably like,
"Men are better at bringing home
the bacon and women are better
at cleaning house" - the famil-
iar justification for keeping
women "in their place." Mr.
Juip's need to categorize people
as men and women in discussing
capabilities illustrates the soci-
etal preoccupation with the gen-
der issue. The truth is that some
people are better at some things
than other individuals. Gender is
certainly not a primary determi-
nant of the type of capabilities to

'Lyric' grates
on the ears
To the Daily:
I have a question for Jason
Lichtstein. What in the world
was your column on March 23.
("The day the music died: Post-
liberalism at the 'U"') trying to
say? What a pedantic mess! I
read it twice and still couldn't*
figure out what on earth was your
point. Did you even have a point,
or were you just showing off
your thesaurus skills? Even edi-
torial columns should be, at least,
remotely readable.
Obviously, you failedtocom-
municate your purpose in the ar-
ticle, and managed to annoy and
confuse your audience. Please,
stop these rambling, incompre-
hensible, ridiculous columns.
They are a total waste of ink and
space.
Thank you.
Harris Ueng
Engineering senior
No LSA delay *
To the Daily:
A small point - whoever
came up with the pass/fail head-
line ("LSA delays vote on pass/
fail changes," 3/13/95) did not
have his or her facts in focus. The
LSA faculty did not "delay" its
vote. College practice did not
allow a vote on a measure just
introduced. It has long been the
practice on the LSA faculty that
proposals can be introduced at
one faculty meeting, but cannot
be discussed or debated or voted

Michigan Student Assembly
Julie Neenan, President

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