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March 30, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-30

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 30, 1995-

Ihe d4tjcb ant OaWig

420 Maynard MICu ROSENBERG
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 Editor in Chief
Edited and managed byJuE BECKR
students at the JAMEs NAsH
University of Michigan Editorial Page Editors
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.
ELostin snballotlost fa
Election snafu illuminates MS s problems

Calvin and Hobbes -the
poetry of our generation

L ike clockwork, the Michigan Student
Assembly has once again fumbled an
election. The 200 ballots that were lost in last
week's elections serve as an example of the
unprofessional stature and ineptitude of MSA
as a governing body of the students.
Misplacing two or three ballots of the
thousands cast is one thing. Losing 200 is
quite another. Every election has its faults;
any ballot-counting procedure is likely to
have a margin of error. However, the 200
ballots that were lost were not lost because of
misplacement or any other justifiable reason:
They were buried under paper in the MSA
office. A election committee member noted,
"There's a lot of paper lying around and they
were there." How could University students
depend on a governing body that cannot even
keep its own office in order? Indeed, al-
though the cleanliness of the office space
should not involve the entire assembly, the
operation of the office in a professional and
businesslike manner demands some degree
of organization. 0
This event, in light of three previous in-
stances of election bumbling, reveals institu-
tional flaws in the assembly. Last spring,
MSA was accused of election fraud, and the
previous fall the elections chair resigned
amid reports of ballot-counting while under
the influence of alcohol.
While MSA has no excuse for losing the
ballots, botching the ballot-counting proce-

dure would be much less likely if MSA
upgraded the process. In a University where
even MSA found the resources to connect to
the Ethernet for computing services, the elec-
tions are truly an anachronism. Students check
a box next to the names of the candidates they
select and stuff an envelope into a ballot box.
The election could easily be computerized,
reducing the possibility of both voter fraud
and ballot miscounting.
Somehow, MSA representatives have
treated these latest abuses of democratic pro-
cess as to be expected. Nothing should be
further from the truth and, likewise, Univer-
sity students should be outraged. In an elec-
tion where a satisfactory number of students
finally took the time to vote, 200 of those
votes could have been discounted.
Although the new administration deserves
a degree of optimism in its coming first days,
events like this signify the present dysfunc-
tional nature of MSA. It is easy to think that
if not for petty partisan politics, MSA could
make a difference at the University and maybe
influence politics nationwide and perhaps
even save the world from certain damnation.
However, events such as this serve as a
reality check. Without a groundswell in stu-
dent concern for the inner workings of MSA,
the governing body will remain in its limited
role. Although a low-influence role would be
progress for B-list actors like John Ritter, it
should not be the goal of the assembly.

C alvin, preeminent cartoon boy, and
Hobbes, his imaginary pet tiger, live
in a scary place - an America where
elementary school attendance is manda-
tory, television is worshipped and every-
day isn't Saturday (or Sunday, for those
graying Smiths' fans out there). But little
pleasures, like enjoying a good mom-made
sandwich for lunch or sending coded mes-
sages to Susie Derkins, keep getting our
young protagonist out of bed each and
every morning. Calvin lives in sanitized
Suburbia U.S.A., where pollution, corpo-
rate toxicity and environmental sludge
reach into even his ecological playground,
down by the water hole, which is appropri-
ately misspelled, "Hobs Creek."
Calvin is also socially dysfunctional
and has no real-life friends. No one seems
to want to sit next to him in the dreaded
school cafeteria when he sucks the retinas
out of his squid sandwich, or when boy
wonder dons his Stupendous Man cape
and out comes his alter ego persona to
fight crime, grade inflation, note passing
and academic injustice in Miss Worm-
wood's all-too-realistic re-enactment of
Eddie Vedder's bloodied jeremy class-
room. None of the other clueless boys or
girls seem to be able to relate to this
strange grade-school boy, who wears the
exact same outfit to the bus stop each
morning, who brings dead flies in for
show-and-tell, a boy who would much
rather discuss the merits of cannibalism
than talk about history - "something any
fool can look up in a book" - a boy who
consults with his pet tiger on the lack of
positive role models and the fundamental
spiritual dilemma of the simultaneous ex-

istence of deities and human suffering. Oh
Calvin is boy wonder, a fictional anti-
social golden boy with bad hair (the Brian
Elliott tousled look) and simple pleasures
- comic books, peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches, summer days with nothing to
do and all to enjoy, and wild winter rides
on his sled, which always seem to end in
some sort of existential revelation
(Einstein's theory of relativity, bah!) on
the sorry cosmic state of affairs. Calvin is
also a young politician, a young Stan
Greenberg - antennae up, assessing his
father's mid-term performance, revealing
opinion poll findings of the policy prefer-
ences of 6-year-old suburban white males
and suggested policy alternatives involv-
ing increases in allowance, the immediate
commencement of driving lessons and
revised television privileges. Calvin's ul-
timate wish, besides his dream of one day
becoming a young Bill Safire or a student
journalist or Christie's right-hand man, is
to order pepperoni pizza and rent movies
like "High-school Psycho Bimbo Serial
Murderers from Toledo."
Calvin's universe is imagined and un-
real, interrupted by the ugly temporal ne-
cessities of school, salmon dinners with
monkey heads, snow shoveling and sadis-
tic babysitters. But the math-illiterate
Calvin has Hobbes (actually captured in
the genesis of Watterson's creation) to do
his tedious, mind-numbing homework and
greet him like a "homicidal jungle cat" at
the end of the hellish school day.
More to the point, Calvin loves free-
dom. Calvin, like a certain overseas friend
of mine, loves liberty. Calvin is a boy of

imagination, a free spirit, an individual
living his young life against the grain,
swimming upstream against the current,
Stipe-like. Calvin is Spaceman Spiff, an
intergalactic explorer. Calvin is a social
commentator, a psychologist, a naive sci-
entist, a researcher on violent sociopaths
like Moe, a troubling third-grader who
shaves. Calvin's sidekick, Hobbes, is a
conscientious member of the animal king-
dom, and unlike the evil and pernicious
Azreal of the drug-induced Smurfs, Hobbes
is beneficent and is able to cope with the
depressing human world by sleeping all
day and taking baths at night, something
Calvin, and myself, definitely need to do
more of.
Calvin is too young to be cynical, to see
his dad's corporate life as pointless and his
own budding academic life as meaning-
less and nascent. But at his age, the stripy-
shirted Calvin is a critic of society, a rebel
without a cause, a precocious 19th-cen-
tury Florentine philosopher/intellectual/
renaissance boy without a public elemen-
tary school degree, or passing grades, for
that matter.
Calvin is neither a Democrat nor a
Republican nor an espouser of laissez-
faire Wheatonian capitalism. He is the
only little boy left in all of suburbia who
speaks the language of the imagination, of
the wishes, hopes and dreams of young
people everywhere. Calvin lives life purely,
and sadly he pays the social costs. Calvin
is the real all-American anti-hero: not the
high school jock or a National Honor
Society top-5 percenter or the king of the
homecoming parade, just a boy and his
tiger. That says it all.




Lesser of two evils
Clinton plan is better 'contract' for America

I n an attempt to slash the price of govern- ment cut
ment and reduce taxes without eliminat- as it con
ing vital programs, President Clinton has Secon
proposed a new set of budget cuts. With the many fe
proposed reductions, the president hopes to states -
accomplish many of the objectives of the trend. V
Republican Contract with America, but to financial
reduce the strains the Contract would impose the comp
on many Americans. While many of the the doma
president's cuts are problematic, they pro- ing these
vide a workable alternative to the Contract local go'
that adds less to the burdens of disadvan- providinE
taged Americans. Then
Under the president's plan, NASA will be plan asid
hit the hardest. The space agency stands to native t
lose about $8 billion and 2,000 jobs within posed by
the next five years. Additionally, $69 million deficit an
will be saved over the next five years by it will als
turning over the responsibility of collecting as the sc
oil and mineral royalties on publicly owned grams.T
land to states and Native American tribes. Contract
The Department of the Interior will also save people w
money by turning over the operation of sev- providin
eral federal scenic parkways to Maryland As pa
and Virginia, bringing the department's total use som
savings to $3.8 billion with a reduction of billion i
2,000 jobs. The plan also calls for eliminat- certainly
ing the Office of Territorial and International should t
Affairs, which oversees relations with a num- cut shou
ber of Pacific islands that became U.S. terri- dent sho
tories under a U.N. mandate after World War cut is cn
II. This will save about $5 million over five class tax
years. Adding these to cutbacks by the Small by Repu
Business Administration ard Federal Emer- unfair to
gency Management Agency the total savings ute to th
by these reductions should be about $13 While
billion with a loss of 5,000 jobs. by both
President Clinton's cutbacks are not with- problem
out their problems, however. It is highly that thed
detrimental to NASA to cut back its funding Clinton h
every time the budget needs reduction. There increasi
are tremendous benefits to be derived from poor Am
space exploration and every time the govern- is clearl

s NASA funds it hobbles an agency
tinues to make progress.
ndly, Clinton's budget plan passes
deral mandates along to individual
- the continuation of an ominous
ery often the states have neither the
nor human resources to carry out
plex programs that have always been
ain of the federal government. Plac-
responsibilities on the states strains
vernments and prevents them from
g important services to the people.
negative aspects of the president's
de, it is a necessary and viable alter-
o the extremely harmful cuts pro-
y the Republicans. While it cuts the
nd reduces taxes to the middle class,
so salvage important initiatives such
chool lunch and summer jobs pro-
These initiatives, imperiled by the
, provide necessary services to many
who would otherwise have no way of
g for them.
art of the plan, the president hopes to
e of the money saved to pay for a $60
middle class tax cut. While this is
a good idea, reducing the deficit
ake precedence over tax cuts. No tax
ld compromise this end. The presi-
uld also keep in mind that if any tax
reated, it should truly be a middle-
cut. Tax cuts for the rich proposed
blicans, such as to capital gains, are
the average American and contrib-
e wide rich-poor gap.
e most of the budget cuts proposed
sides of the political spectrum are
atic and unfortunate, the hard fact is
deficit needs to be reduced. President
has proposed a way to do this without
ng hardships for middle-class and
nericans. While it has its problems, it
.y the lesser of two evils.

University- of Michigan
~1A7/J 4vJ~idA L%(/JvA~N( I//A Y !'p

"The whole
diversity crap was
just that. This
town basically
strives ... for
individuality and
what happened to
me was the total
- Janna Vowels, a
former outpatient clerk
who is suing the Uni-
versity over harass-
ment she claims she
was exposed to after
shaving her head


To the Daily:
On behalf of the Washtenaw
County Human Services Group,
we would like to extend our
appreciation to the local busi-
nesses and volunteers who par-
ticipated in the Bar & Cafe Out-
reach Program during the week
of Feb. 11-18. This week was
proclaimed National Condom
Week by the mayors of Ann
Arbor and Ypsilanti in a nation-
wide effort to bring awareness
to sexually transmitted disease
and HIV prevention activities.
More than 20 local bars and
cafes participated by providing
informational materials and
hosting volunteer educators.
With current statistics indicat-
ing that AIDS is the leading
killer of young adults ages 25-
44 in this country, it is increas-
ingly important to develop in-
novative community efforts that
encourage risk-reduction activi-
ties. The businesses demon-
strate commitment to improv-
ing health and well-being of
their patrons by collaborating
with volunteers in this program.
Many thanks to the partici-
pating businesses and to volun-

action in the recent Internet case
involving Jake Baker. We be-
lieve their response appropri-
ately recognizes the seriousness
of this incident, shows a real
commitment to addressing the
problem of violence against
women on campus, and gives
the campus community a clear
message that violence against
women will not be tolerated.
We abhor the demeaning atti-
tude toward women that Baker's
behavior conveys. We also be-
lieve that the actions of Jake
Baker posed a serious and very
real threat, not only to the
woman he specifically named,
but to the entire University of
Michigan community. We note
as examples of Baker's conduct
the following, based on news
accounts and the U.S. Attorney
press release:
® In his Internet transmissions,
Baker wrote that "torture is fore-
play, rape is romance, snuff is
® In one of his stories, Baker
names a University student from
one of his classes as the victim
and uses her name as the title of
a story where she is tortured,
raped and murdered.
In a different story, he and
another man break into this same
woman's apartment, tie her hair

this man, Baker details another
specific plan that involves ab-
ducting a student from the
woman's bathroom in his dorm
that is located directly across
the hall from his room. -
While the rights guaranteed
by the First Amendment must
be carefully guarded, these
rights are not unlimited. De-
tailed communications threat-
ening rape and torture of a real
person to take place at a speci-
fied locations and made by an
individual with the apparent
ability to carry out those threats
go far beyond any notion of
harmless sexual fantasies. When
threats such as this are made,
those responsible for the safety
of the campus community must
take action. Indeed, this is a
classic example of a case where
taking no action means ignor-
ing the safety and the rights of
the victim. By sending a clear
message that this kind of behav-
ior will not be tolerated on this
campus, President Duderstadt
and the Department of Public
Safety have taken a significant
step toward making the campus
a safe place for women.
Debra L. Cain
Associate Prof. Daniel G.

prompts me to write.
It is true that males perform
better than females on traditional
spatial ability tests. We must,
however, question the method-
ology of these tests. The Naditch
Study, which is cited in the anno-
tated bibliography in Julia
Sherman's book "Sex-related
Cognitive Differences," used
another method and produced
different results. The study used
the Witkin'sRodandFrameTest.
Half of the people were told that
it was a spatial ability test, and
the other half of the people were
told it was a test of empathy. For
the second half, the rod was
shaped like a person. The study
disproved the notion that males
have better spatial ability than
Why did the Naditch Study
produce such different results?
The traditional tests require
people to be "field independent"
- to divorce themselves from
the context. The Naditch Study
allowed people to relate to the
context by having empathy for
the person. In other words, the
traditional spatial ability tests
ignore the confounding effects
of the degree of relation to con-
text. Therefore, we must ques-
tion the validity of these tests.
We must also question the

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

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