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March 29, 1996 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-03-29

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 29, 1996

U~fje £diir ~~

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


Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

'This (theft) was not a method of expression. It's really
exercising a very punitive form of censorship.'
-- Joan Lowentein, attorney and co-chair of the Board
for Student Publications, referring to the theft of 8,700
copies of The Michigan Daily on Wednesday

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion ofa majority of/the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
An act Of censorship
Theft of student newspaper abridges rights


' c R'-w
CATA1. 6S .

A mericans are guaranteed certain free
doms and rights. Stealing negates those
rights and freedoms - but the worst kind of
theft robs citizens of speech and information,
such as Wednesday's theft of more than half
of The Michigan Daily's press run. About
8,700 of 16,500 copies disappeared from
distribution sites around campus. In many
spots, newspapers were replaced by insidi-
ous signs stating, "The Michigan Daily has
been cancelled today due to racism." The
flier included an excerpt from Tuesday's
Michigan Student Assembly endorsement
and a Jim Lasser cartoon.
,The Department of Public Safety is con-
ducting an investigation to find the perpetra-
tors of the crime. The Daily has vowed to
pursue criminal prosecution ifthe guilty party
is found. In addition, the paper will pursue
other legal options, including a civil suit. The
estimated damages are approximately
$10,000. DPS decided to treat the case as a
felony larceny, rather than a misdemeanor
larceny; the department deserves commen-
dation for this decision. Their classification
will bring a stricter punishment against the
perpetrators and will correctly intensify the
legal proceedings.
Although the theft imposes serious finan-
cial strains on the paper, the larger issues at
stake make the incident reprehensible. Along
with the papers, the freedom of information
was swiped from the students. The Daily is
the newspaper of record for University stu-
dents. If criminals walk off with half of the
campus newspapers, they deprive students
ofvital news. Wednesday's edition contained
a great deal of important information that
directly affects students. The Graduate Em-
ployees Organization released a decision to
strike next month, the Daily endorsed candi-
dates for LSA-Student Government, and
many students expected a Summer Sublet

Section. Whatever the day's news, the ma-
jority of students lose out when acts of cow-
ardice - like this clandestine theft - occur.
Furthermore, the Daily's freedom of
speech was robbed. The U.S. Constitution
guarantees newspapers the right to publish
every day. Others may disagree, but they
should not - must not - prohibit this free-
dom. The Daily has always supported others'
right to protest, including items printed within
its pages. But the act was not a protest -.it
was an illegal and fascist attempt at censor-
ship. If people object to the content of this -
or any-newspaper, they have options avail-
able to make their voice heard: letters to the
editor, viewpoints, joining the organization
or creating a new publication, as the Michi-
gan Independent did more than two years
Similar incidents have occurred at other
college campuses in the past few years. In the
spring of 1993, the University of
Pennsylvania's Daily Pennsylvanian's cir-
culation of 14,000 papers was taken as a
protest against conservative views expressed
in the paper. In each case, perpetrators dam-
age their own complaints by resorting to such
drastic and unreasonable action. In the end,
their views become ignored and ridiculed
due to the foolish means they pursued to
attract attention.
The University prides itself on mature
discourse and facilitation of independent
thought and claims to be dedicated to sup-
porting a free marketplace of ideas;
Wednesday's crime undermined this atmo-
sphere. Students should view this as a direct
attack on their right to information and free-
dom of thought. The Daily has viewed this as
a gutting attack on the freedom of expression
for all. It is an act that the University commu-
nity should not tolerate and an act that the
Daily will not tolerate.


Newspaper theft
a cowrdly act
Once vou permit those who are con-
vinced oftheir own superior rightness
to censor and silence and suppress
those who hold contra-vo dpinionsjust
at that moment the citadel has been
surrendered. - Archibald McLeish
M y response, I admit, was typical.
When I arrived at the Modem
Languages Building for my first class
late Wednesdayamorning, I found the
en tr ance way
strangely devoid of
the usual mishmash
of copies of The{
Michigan Daily. I .
proceeded to they
next door: no
Dailys. Entrance
No. 3, same result.
The Daily, it
seemed, had ceased
to exist.
Then, my reac- BRENT
tion, probably MCINTOSH
much the same as
that uttered under the breaths of thou-
sands of students all over this campus:
What will I do during class, imnot the
It was not until later in the day that I
saw the fliers that had been posted at
some Daily distribution sites. It seems
that "The Ad Hoc Committee Against
the Bullshit in The Michigan Daily"
had proclaimed the Daily "Cancelled
Today Due to Racism."
Well. I see.
Suddenly the crossword seemed
rather trivial.
The committee had decided that the
Daily was a font of racism. And they
had cancelled it.
Let me translate, for those less versed
in the euphemisms of censorship.
H-alf of the press run of Wednesday's
Daily was stolen.
Stolen why? Becausethe thieves had
some use for 8,700 newspapers, such
as lining a monstrous birdcage? Be-
cause there were somewhere 15,000
readers who were not able to procure a
Daily due to distribution practices?
No: The Daily was stolen because
some "committee" disagreed with
something published in our pages and
decided that it was within its rights to
deprive the Daily's readers of their
Was it within their rights?
If an anonymous ad hoc
committee can censor
us, then whither The
Michigan Daily?


A potent mix
MSA employees must remain non-partisan

omewhere in the chambers of the Michi-
gan Student Assembly, the meaning of
"non-partisan" got lost.
Last week, MSA administration suspended
coordinator Lou Stefanic in the midst of
allegations of shady campaign tactics and
illegal use of resources. Stefanic - a non-
partisan employee of the University - was
accused of sending an e-mail message to
candidates running in the Wolverine Party.
The message explicitly outlined campaign
tactics and procedures that would help Wol-
verine candidates in yesterday's and
Wednesday's MSA elections. It also referred
to the use ofMSA materials and resources to
further the party's campaign - a severe
violation of MSA's Election Code.
Stefanic allegedly sent the message to
MSA presidential candidate Andy Schor,
vice presidential candidate Matt Curin, and
LSA Reps. Michael Nagrant and Erin Carey.
MSA charged each of these members with
violations of the MSA Election Code, sec-
tion 41.57. It states: "Anyone using MSA
facilities to conduct a campaign may be fined
up to $25 per violation not to exceed a total of
$100 by the Election Court." MSA levied a
$25 fine on all four recipients of the message
-charges they have not contested and stated
they will not contest until after the election.
Stefanic has neither confirmed nor denied
that he wrote the e-mail message. Evidence
of an unethical partnership between Stefanic
and the Wolverine Party has yet to be estab-
lished. But the seed has been planted - the
integrity ofMSA employees and their adher-

ethical track record, the assembly does not
need the kind of allegations currently facing
its administrative coordinator.
It damages the assembly's public image
and raises serious concerns about the quality
of internal assembly employees. Non-parti-
san employees, by definition, must not be
involved in campaigns for political parties.
Stefanic's alleged breach of contract would
set an unacceptable example for MSA ad-
ministrative employees.
The Wolverine Party's alleged illegal use
of MSA facilities implicitly includes advice
from employees - Stefanic is considered
one of MSA's resources. Hence, the party
members were fined as a result of receiving
the message. MSA presidential candidate
Andy Schor claims that the Wolverine Party
has not used MSA resources in the campaign
-but he may be misinterpreting the implica-
tions of the term "resource." Schor said that
he has solicited and accepted political advice
from Stefanic in the past, but he states that
Stefanic has not "actively participated" in the
Wolverine Party's campaign. MSA must
define "resource" and "active participation"
so that all MSA candidates and - more
importantly - all MSA employees have a
common understanding of election rules and
party guidelines.
MSA employees and candidates must
make a conscious efforts to clean up their act
- the state of the assembly teeters on ethical
mayhem. Students and candidates alike de-
serve clean campaigns. The assembly de-
serves contract-abiding employees. Candi-

No benefits
to same-sex
I am writing this letter to
applaud the efforts of state
Sens. George McManus (R-
Traverse City) and Bill
Schuette (R-Midland) in
their efforts to prevent
special benefits for homo-
sexuals and domestic
Their recent bill will
deduct appropriations to
universities in direct relation
to the amount of money they
spend on benefits for
unmarried domestic partners.
Some universities, like
the University, enjoy
spending my tuition money
and taxpayer funds on
programs that are not only
radical, but are also anti-
Their schemes would
discourage marriage, for
students and faculty would
be able to obtain the same
benefits without any
Allowing domestic
partners to claim benefits
similar to married couples is
an assault on marriage and
another attempt to legitimize
lifestyles the majority of
American people find
Domestic partners are not
legally recognized and the
University is once again
wasting my money on social
Call me whatever names
you wish, but the University
has no right to go around the
law, and more importantly
the wishes of Michigan
taxpayers and students.
lack details
Recently the Daily has
run articles on discontent
amongst minority students in
the law and medical schools.
Students spoke about
"dealing with racism every
day" and "attitudes of
faculty (which) deter
minority students from
succeeding" ("Law School
reacts to racial incident," 3/
As)their claims seem to
indict the entire University
community, I wish I knew
what exactly they are talking
Not that I doubt we have
racism on our campus. Not
at all. My concern is with
the vagueness and generality
of the claims. We already

Share an incident long past;
use aliases; attribute the
situation to "a friend of
mine"- but if it's important
enough to you, please,
communicate your experi-
Until students speak out
with specificity about the
discrimination they encoun-
ter on our campus, we can't
hope to effectively address
it. I'm sure the Daily wotld
concur with my invitation to
all concerned students and
faculty to write in with
concrete examples (and with
requests for anonymity if
need be). With this problem
more clearly defined, maybe
more of us can become part
of the solution.
Greek Week
- was somewhat disap-
pointed to find that none of
the major Greek Week
events from the past three
days were included in
Monday's edition of your
Greek Week is a major
philanthropic event at the
University and involves a
Greek system comprised of
approximately 4,200
Not only were the
competitive events of Diag
Day (Friday) the Greek
Games (Saturday) and Delta
Gamma's Anchor Splash
(Sunday) ignored, but so
was the major community
service activity, the
Children's Carnival
For a project that raises
in excess of $30,000.
donates 500 pints of blood
and performs over 1,500
hours of community service
work, it is my opinion that
the hardworking members of
the Greek system deserve a
little recognition. In years
past, this has never been a
Med. School
must be
Although I am writing to
commend and support the
stance of the Daily in its
editorial ("Two years too
late-' Medical Schcol mst

zation (PEACE) that consists
of University personnel
concerned with , and victims
of, discrimination by the
University, 1 presented
information quite similar to
that reported in the Nichols
Report. Not only was I
publicly chastised and
discredited by the Vice
President for University
Relations (Walter Harrison),
by also by a scathing Daily
editorial ("Stealing the
spotlight: Landefeld's words
on racism harm his goals," 3/
15/95), that was inaccurate
and actually contradictory to
previous articles and
editorial by the Daily
addressing those exact same
issues. Thus, the paradox
between the editorials of
March 1996 and March
1995! This year, the editorial
appropriately called for
"changes" and also admon-
ished the Dean (Giles Bole)
for not making changes
earlier. Last year a very
personalized and maligning
editorial admonished me, the
"messenger," rather than
those charged with, and
empowered to, make the
necessary changes.
After all, I was doing, not
only what I have a right (and
duty) to do, but also, as a
faculty member, have been
encouraged to do by
legislators, such as Sen.
Alma Wheeler Smith (D-
South Lyon) and Rep. Liz
Brater (D-Ann Arbor).
Nichols and Associates were
doing what they got paid to
do. And both of us were
saying the same thing:
changes must be made to
address these problems.
Thus, one needs to question
the motivation, perhaps
incentive, and certainly the
responsibility for these very
different Daily editorials
Harrison could not be a
"ghost editor" for the Daily,
could he?
At the top of the Daily on
March 21, you printed a
picture of people sledding in
the Arb, explainingthey
were sledding "down one of
many available paths," at
least implicitly encouraging
others to join in on the fun. It
is illegal tosled in the Arb
many people have been
seriously injured slamming
their heads into tree trunks at
20 mph.
In addition, there are
many rare plants and young
trPP~C the're'("Arhnehm"-

The answer clearly is no. Legal pre-
cedent establishes that much. The Daily
will prosecute fully the offenders.
Why do we care so much about the
theft of papers that were free anyway?
Forget the costs of producing a news-
paper. Forget the refunds that must be
made to advertisers. Forget the effort,
now half gone to waste, thanklessly
expended by Daily-ites so that resi-
dents of our intellectual community
may be informed.
Why do we care? The answer lies in
the precedent that would be set were
this de facto censorship ignored.
Though I would fervently contest
the committee's claims, their validity
is simply not an issue here. What is an
issue - what is the issue - is a
violation of free expression.
"The censor's sword pierces deeply
into the heart offree expression," wrote
the late Earl Warren in 1968; that
maxim stands no less true today. It is
especially true here, at a university,
where free and honest discourse is the
foundation of what we do.
If an anonymous ad hoc committee
can censor us, then whither The Michi-
gan Daily? Can our advertisers dictate
editorial content? Can the administra-
tion censor us for our criticisms?
Broadly, can those who do not pro-
duce the Daily assume the privilege of
choosing what does and does not ap-
pear in its pages?
The answer is -and must always be
- a resounding no.
There is no expression intheft. There
is only cowardly censorship.
Legitimate avenues for the expres-
sion of dissent do exist. Write a letter
to the editor or a guest editorial. Picket
the Student Publications Building. Join
our staff and do something about your
complaints - though a critic, John
Mason Brown said, "prefers the indo-
lence of opinion to the trials ofaction."
Even stop reading. As Ferdinand
Mount pointed out, "One of the un-
sung freedoms that go with a free press
is the freedom not to read it."
The choice to read, though, should
be your own. As we are not forcing our
publication upon you, neither should
you be denied the right to read it.
That is why what seems to be little
more than a felony is truly a matter of


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