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March 25, 1996 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-03-25

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TA - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 25, 1996

UJlw irihgrtn igt

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

Editor in Chief
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.
Mandatory learning
U' should not require residence hall programs

'I expect the University to make a
forceful case against this.'
- Regent Rebecca McGowan (D-Ann Arbor),
referring to the state funding cut for same-sex
marriage partner benefits at state universities
f -- r /-

L ast week, a University task force recom-
mended drastic changes in the structure
of on campus student housing. Vice Presi-
dent for Student Affairs Maureen Hartford
assembled the task force, following through
on one ofher pet projects. Under its proposal,
living-learning communities would be man-
datory for all residence hall occupants. Al-
though the Residential College benefits many
students, making living-learning communi-
ties a requirement would detract from the
diversity of the college experience and limit
students' educational choices.
The University plans to develop programs
with a specific academic or educational fo-
cus, each based in a single residence hall. For
example, several of the prgrams under con-
sideration would concentrate on community
service, leadership training, studying skills
or minority issues. But these learning pro-
grams, innocuous on the surface, threaten to
fragment the student body. Students with
similar interests would be forced together -
hindering the opportunity to meet people
with different ideas and backgrounds. In ad-
dition, students whose interests evolve dur-
ng the year could become stuck in a program
in which they no longer want to be involved.
Living-learning communities threaten to dras-
tically decrease the diversity that the Univer-
sity has worked so hard to achieve.
One word most first-year students do not
want to hear is "mandatory." Currently, liv-
Sng-learning requirements are offered as op-
tions that give a student the opportunity to
make a large university smaller. Students
join these programs after carefully choosing
between many options. If Hartford believes
rvery student will enter new living-learning
Communities as enthusiastically as those who
rnter the current ones by choice, she is mis-
taken. Some incoming students will have to
decide between what they may consider un-
attractive alternatives. Without wholehearted
student participation in the programs, living-,
k Aborti nj
Court should upho
ast week, the Supreme Court announced
L it will re-examine the issue of "buffer
zones" surrounding abortion clinics later this
year. The issue has focused on freedom of
speech - protesters say they are exercising
this right. In reality, however, they are in-
timidating, and in some cases they harm
those seeking abortions. The Supreme Court
should uphold the current law; buffer zones
are necessary for those seeking abortions,
and they are wise public policy.
The current Supreme Court case stems
from a law in Buffalo and Rochester that
allows a 15-foot buffer zone around abortion
clinics. Protesters are not allowed to cross
this line. The buffer zone also extends to
vehicles that are entering or exiting clinics.
in certain circumstances, a single protester is
allowed to enter the buffer zone to "counsel"
persons entering or leaving the clinic. How-
ever, when that individual does not want
"counseling," the protester must then imme-
diately leave the buffer zone. Opponents of
the law took the issue to court, and last

September a federal appeals court in New
York ruled that the buffer zones were consti-
Anti-abortion interests, particularly the
activist group Project Rescue, have railed
against buffer zones, saying that any attempt
to limittheir access to areas around clinics is
a violation ofthe First Amendment. They say
that their right to free speech is stronger than

learning communities may have a hard time
achieving their objectives.
Residence halls are vital to the first-year
experience. Students adapt to unfamiliar
people and eventually find their niches. If
living-learning programs were mandatory,
many first-year students might consider off-
campus living options. With mandatory learn-
ing programs, the University may not only
dissuade students from living in residence
halls. Potential students may choose a uni-
versity that allows them more freedom in
their educational and living options.
An August letter to Michigan Student
Assembly President Flint Wainess, asking
him to serve on the task force, stated that the
University aims "to house each new student
in a learning community by the Fall of 1997."
The timetable is unrealistic. To properly set
up these programs, the administration will
need an immense bureaucratic effort. Simi-
lar mandatory programs in other schools,
such as Yale, need to be studied, and a
comprehensive curriculum needs to be com-
piled for each learning community. Further-
more, finding enough people with the expe-
rience to direct the programs, and hiring and
training the staff, will take time. If the Uni-
versity unwisely decides to implement man-
datory living-learning communities, doing it
hastily would be a recipe for disaster.
The transition to college is harder for
some than others. Living-learning programs
are effective for some students in easing this
drastic change in their lives. Other students
come to the University because it is large and
diverse. Forcing students to be in a learning
program may take away some of the advan-
tages of having a large student body. Imple-
menting this massive programming change
by fall 1997 is reckless. Before blindly ac-
cepting the task force's recommendations,
the administration must consider how liv-
ing-learning communities threaten to divide
the student body.
Id buffer zone' law
cient reason to curtail their activities. Law-
yers for Project Rescue point to rulings on
burning the American flag to further their
argument. The court has ruled that a
protester's right to burn the American flag as
a statement overrides any discomfort that an
onlooker may experience.
However, anti-abortion interests skew the
facts. If every abortion-clinic protest were
limited to making a statement, their argu-
ment could be valid. But many protests in-
timidate women who are seeking abortions.
Many anti-abortion protesters renounce vio-
lence; however, many over-zealous protest-
ers often change such events from peaceful
gatherings to coercive mobs.
The boundaries of free speech have never
included statements that intend, intention-
ally or not, to coerce, threat or harass others.
Behavior that creates ahazardto public safety
has never been induced as well. While the
shooting of doctors leaving clinics paints the
worst possible picture of anti-abortion zeal-
ots, numerous instances of violence surround-

ing anti-abortion protesters would make rea-
sonable individuals fear for their safety when
confronted by one.
The Supreme Court should realize the
distinction between free speech and intimi-
dating behavior, and rule in favor of the
Buffalo abortion-clinic buffer-zone law. The
law was not intended to silence the opinions
of those who oppose abortions - however,

Elect James
Kovacs for
It's not vey often that
someone is given real credit
among all the political
goose-stepping that has been
going on lately in the
Michigan Student Assembly
and LSA-Student Govern-
ment. I'm writing to do that
for one very good human
being: James Kovacs.
I was there when LSA-
SG Election Director Mark
Borgman made his initial
decision to have the names
of the Students' Party and
Michigan Party stricken
from the ballot on voting
day. No less revolting to me
than the abhorrent trickery
that seemed to be going on
that night was its aftermath. I
watched in horror as chatty
student politicians plotted
and schemed to save
themselves at the expense of
everyone else.
Amidst this descent in the
pits of human nature, with a
knowing smile on his face,
Kovacs stood strong. Careful
not to act too quickly or to
hurt anyone else, James
showed me once again why I
chose to run with him as an
LSA-SG representative. He
exemplifies to me what
student government can be if
freed from the dogs of
politicking. James is a model
student, a strong leaderand
someone whose integrity I
hope to emulate myself.
I'm new in this
backstabbing world of
student government. It's
good to see that with people
like James around, there is
hope for us all. I'm proud to
associate myself with him on
the Students' Party slate. For
his fine manners, his mild
disposition and his kind way,
he deserves to be recognized.
He stands as a symbol of
integrity and fairness. I hope
that the students can come to
see James as I do.
For all you do James, I
salut you.
News article
After reading your article
today ("The search is on
...," 3/22/96) about the
Michigan Student Assembly
elections, I was displeased
to see that a lot of the
candidates were not given

of Daily and its writers. I
strongly hold my position
and know of many people
that agree with my stance. I
hope you can rewrite
another article stating the
true facts and print it in
Monday's Daily.
Don't judge
Rose by her
It is no surprise that
students look derisively at
the Michigan Student
Assembly in light of the
recent attacks on the
credibility of Fiona Rose. It
is a shame that on a campus
where intellectual pursuits
are honored that opposition
lackeys must resort to
savagely attacking a
candidate whose credentials
in serving the students have
shown to be unassailable in
two landslide elections for
LSA representative. Rather
than making this election
one about issues and
substance, they have
resorted in frustration to the
obvious popularity of
Michigan Party leadership to
comparing Fiona Rose to
Josef Stalin, mass murderer
and evil incarnate - a
comparison that I find
offensive, ridiculous and
disrespectable to the
millions of people who died
under his brutal purges. I
think people who take an
election to a personal level
need to re-evaluate their
I believe the real evil
stems from these self-
aggrandizing "candidates"
who have no regard for
people's feelings and just
want to further their own
selfish resumes. This is a
campus of students coming
together for a world-class
education, not a political
circus, where in the absence
of any compelling reason to
be elected, the opposition
must try to buy an election
like Steve Forbes.
I am appalled at the
mudslinging that emanates
from a campus election that
should be about student
concerns and unity. Instead,
these people with a radical
and useless ideology resort
to name-calling and mislead-
ing innuendo.
I have known Fiona Rose
for a year now, and I am
continually amazed by her
drive and dedication to
students. She is one of my
best friends, and I respect
her enormously. I am sure
that I speak for a large
number of her friends in
saying that she is kind and

Like many others, I cherish
her friendship, and I resent
attacks by individuals who
have never even met her-
rather, they have foolishly
signed on to letters penned
by a cowardly opposition
who feeds on brainwashing
rather than education.
I was brought up being
taught never to prejudge
people and to give everyone
a fair shot. I speak for the
Michigan Party in asserting
that for us, this is an election
about student concerns and
helping students - not
taking cheap shots as a result
of being consumed with
vengeance and blinded by
We will conduct this
election the way it ought to
be - with old-fashioned
soap-box campaigning and
getting the message across. I
steadfastly believe that
students on this campus will
ignore the character assassi-
nation that is being con-
ducted and will vote for who
they think is best qualified to
represent the student body.
Rose works
hard for
I am writing in response
to a couple of letters that
have appeared in the Daily
with false and/or misleading
information about Michigan
Party MSA Presidential
Candidate Fiona Rose.
I am a student that
receives Financial Aid.
Without the loans, grants,
work-study jobs and other
scholarships the Office of
financial aid offers, I would
not be able to attend the
University. In Fiona Rose's
term as an MSA representa-
tive, she has worked hard to
increase financial aid for
Michigan students. She
understands the difficulties
many financial aid students
experience and has worked
intelligently with students
and the University to ease
these problems.
Fiona Rose has rallied for
better child-care services and
increased on-campus
parking. She has endlessly
devoted her energies to
improving conditions for
Michigan students.
I hope all students for
whom financial aid is a
concern will join me in
voting for Fiona Rose for
president of the MSA on
March 27 and 28.

The classroom
gender balance:
Who speaks more,
men or women?
t t ook a class with gender-
imbalanced enrollment for me to
notice gender imbalance in class par-
My Feminist
Film Theory class
has fewer than half
as many men as
women, but over
several different
days of tallying I
have found that ap-
proximately half
of the comments in
class come from
men. Several ofthe
men in the class KATE
frequently speak EPSTEIN
twice during a
single class period
- a lot in an 80-minute period, when
nearly 80 students share the floor.
The gender imbalance does not stem
from adverse classroom conditions.
Prof. Rebecca Egger does not belittle
or demean comments from students
of any sex. The students in the class
are also respectful of one another.
The professor isa woman, living proof
that gender identity cannot stop a
woman from having authority about
the class' subject matter. The subject
matter, feminist theory about cin-
ema, lends itself to female empower-
ment, not female silence. If anything,
I would expect the men in the class to
be too quiet.
The men in the class, of course, are
not a random sample. The fact that
the class' title has the word "femi-
nist" in it biases the sample. In my
experience, almost no men sign up
for classes with "feminist," "woman"
or "women" in the titles. The men
who do are not the ones who find
feminist subject matter intimidating,
especially not in 400-level classes
like Feminist Film Theory. Self-se-
lectionmakes it unsurprising that men
do not speak less than women in such
Their scarcity may actually encour-
age each of the men in my class to
participate. The importance of per-
sonal experience of gender has never
been articulated in class discussion,
but in discussions about gender poli-
tics it doesn't need to be. The few
men in the room bear the responsibil-
ity of representing male experience.
They may be compensating for the
lack of men present, although they
speak so disproportionately often that
this cannot entirely explain it. It also
cannot explain the imbalance in other
large classes, which Professor Egger
says has been present in most of the
large classes she's taught, including
those that have apparently nothing to
do with gender.
The best-selling book by linguist
Deborah Tannen, "You Just Don't
Understand," posits an explanation
for gender-imbalanced class partici-
pation based solely on gender differ-
ence. In Tannen's argument, owing
to their conditioning, men use lan-
guage to compete, and women use
language to make emotional connec-
tions. This difference gives women
less practice, and, therefore, less con-
fidence, in speaking in competitive
situations like large lecture classes.

But gender relations respond to
more than difference. They respond
to the difference in power between
men and women. The situation
Tannen describes in her book stems
partly from the fact that Western so-
ciety presumes men have more intel-
lectual authority than women.
Women are schooled to listen to men;
men are schooled to impart their wis-
dom to women. Even while studying
feminist theory, the men and women
in my class are unable as a group to
break out of this schooling. The fact
that a woman teaches the class and
women produced much of the mate-
rial we study has been insufficient to
cause such a change.
The men in my class may also be
subtly challenging the threat feminist
theory poses to the pattern of men
dominating classroom discussions.
Feminist theory identifies male privi-
lege, that is, it points a finger at the
unearned fringe benefits of having a
Y chromosome. One of these ben-
efits is that men are widely consid-
ered smarter than women, especially
about rigorous subjects like the ones
studied in Feminist Film Theory, and
therefore, better entitled to take up
class time by sharing their thoughts.
The mere act of pointing out that this
benefit is unearned threatens it. In
taking up a disproportionate amount








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