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April 02, 1996 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-02

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4- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 2, 1996

llie S rI(igiau ?§acg

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 the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
Losing the message
MSA campaign style keeps voting low

'We've got work to do in terms of how we
view women in this society.'
- Greg Harden, the moderator of the Interfraternity Council's seminar
on violence against women on Sunday.

Last week, during mad last-minute cam-
paigning for Michigan Student
Assembly elections, names and faces
assaulted students all over campus. The
walls and corkboards of the Fishbowl were
plastered with reams of paper - torn and
crumpled posters littered the halls and blew
around the Diag. Yet the posters did not
convey information about the issues or the
campaign itself.
Perhaps the candidates' failure to inform
students contributed to the abysmally low
voter turnout. As the polling results clearly
illustrated, students were not compelled to
participate in MSA elections. While this
closely follows MSA's election history,
turnout for last week's election was the low-
est the assembly has seen in recent years -
only about 10 percent of the student popu-
lation cast ballots in the presidential race.
The candidates and assembly alike should
note this student apathy and make efforts to
take collective responsibility for the good of
MSA and the student body, instead of the
current rash of individual pursuits.
This year, presidential candidates from
all six parties proclaimed the necessity of
student involvement in MSA. They swore to
educate the student population about the
issues - indeed, "educating the students"
was the buzz phrase for this MSA election.
However, the posters covering campus said
little about the issues - or anything, for
that matter. The posters displayed large,
ingratiating photos, which, in many cases,
offered no useful information to potential
voters andexcluded information as basic as
the election dates.
Students need more than a slick photo
and snappy font to make an informed deci-
sion. Without a working knowledge of the
candidates and their platforms, students do



not feel compelled to vote. If the candidates
had been as interested in promoting the
elections as they had been in promoting
themselves, voter turnout may have been
In past years, MSA members have post-
ed signs and banners reminding students to
vote - including information about elec-
tion dates and polling locations. This year,
MSA did not post any public-service
announcements of this nature. MSA should
note that the most effective reminder is non-
partisan; this was evidenced in last week's
election, when candidates stood on the Diag
and thrust flyers into the hands of passersby
- saying "Vote for me," instead of "Vote in
MSA elections." MSA should bring back
the nonpartisan messages encouraging stu-
dents to vote.
MSA must also be more prepared with
materials and polling sites. During last
week's election, many prospective student
voters were turned away at the Fishbowl
polling site due to a ballot shortage. Many
students in South Quad were not able to
vote at all - the polling site opened late
and its hours were limited, due to miscom-
munication. Several polling sites across
campus offered only sporadic hours of
operation. It is impossible to estimate the
number of lost votes due to MSA's lack of
Inefficient and ineffective MSA elec-
tions are nothing new - for many years,
candidates have been self-serving, the MSA
administration has been ill-prepared and
students have been apathetic. Students' lack
of attention can be attributed partially to the
assembly and candidate shortcomings.
Adequate voter turnout in future elections
requires major campaign and election clean
up on the part of the candidates.

Paying the toll
Gas-tax increase is an innovative idea

Are improved roads and bridges worth
an extra few cents to the average
Michigan driver? One state senator believes
they are. State Sen. James Berryman (D-
Adrian) recently proposed raising the gas
tax to help pay for road repairs - a long-
overdue proposal for improving the state's
crumbling roads and bridges.
The bill, introduced last week, calls for a
two-step increase in the state gasoline tax to
repair roads and bridges. Under Berryman's
plan, the 15-cents-a-gallon tax on gas and
diesel fuel would increase by 8 cents - 4
cents in May 1996 and another 4 cents in
October 1996. The 6-cent discount on
diesel fuel to commercial truckers would
end Jan. 1, 1997, under this proposal. Also,
the legislation would divert 1.7 percent of
the Single Business Tax revenues to help in
The bill would provide necessary fund-
ing for infrastructure improvements. In all,
the proposed changes in the gas tax would
generate more than $100 million addition-
ally for the current fiscal year and more
than $450 million in the fiscal year begin-
ning Oct. 1, 1996. Costs to drivers would be
minimal. Berryman claims that Michigan
drivers who average 10,000 miles per year
would pay approximately 77 cents per week
under the proposal - hardly significant
compared to the costs of ruined tires and
other road-related damage, currently paid
by many motorists.
Berryman's bill is logical as well as fair.
It levies a tax on those who abuse Michigan

more damage to highways than does a nor-
mal passenger car. Yet under the current gas
tax, these semi-trailers receive a 6-cents-a-
gallon discount on diesel fuel from the tax.
As a result, much of the gas-tax burden falls
on the average motorist. The bill would
shift more responsibility to the trucks that
inflict the majority of the damage on our
Both Republicans and Democrats in
Lansing have tossed around the notion of a
gas-tax increase for the past few years, but
neither side has taken action. While politi-
cal disagreements over tax appropriations
endure, state roads have continued to dete-
riorate. Gov. John Engler claims state road
projects need to receive a greater percent-
age of the gas tax than they do now. While
his contention may have some merit -
because there are so many local and state
roads and bridges that need attention -
how the money is distributed between the.
two is merely semantics. His reasoning
against the gas-tax increase is shaky.
Although Engler appears to be engaged
in a battle of state versus local power, he is
also hesitant to raise taxes for political rea-
sons. A tax increase might tarnish his repu-
tation, and diminish all of the tax cuts he
has made. His politicking is wrong because
it hurts the state, which needs the gas-tax
As Berryman said last week, "Smoother
roads and safer bridges should not be a par-
tisan issue." Engler should remember that
he is still Michigan's governor - not a vice

Ann Arbor
News unfair
to judge
On March 15, the public
was dealt a great injustice by
the supposedly neutral and
informative media. An article
on the front page of The Ann
ArborkNews, titled "Judge's
remarks anger rape victim,"
by Susan Oppat, viciously
and inappropriately attacked
Judge Donald E. Shelton.
First, it states that the vic-
tim was unhappy with how
she was treated by Shelton,
though it neglects to mention
the cause of her frustration
and disappointment was due
more to misperceptions and
confusion than to any action
by the judge. The situation
was complicated by the mis-
calculation of the sentencing
guidelines, which should be
determined by counsel before
appearing in court.
In addition, the article
alleges that Shelton was dis-
appointed to learn "that (the
victim) was unhappy about
the sentencing agreement ...'
However, he was sorry to
learn the victim was unhappy
with the sentence by reading
it in Sunday's News, not that
he was distressed about her
disappointment. Shelton
inquisitively listened to the
victims' impact statements
and attempted to understand
and consider their perspec-
tives as best he could.
Unfortunately, it is neces-
sary that the public take what
they read with a grain of salt,
understanding that the mere
fact that something appears
in print does not render it
accurate or void of personal
prejudices. As a witness to
(the) hearing, I can state that
Oppat's version is an inaccu-
rate portrayal and distortions
of judicial proceedings are
forms of injustice.
benefits are
I would like to respond to
Mark Fletcher's letter of
March 29 ("No benefits to
same-sex partners"). First,
Fletcher does not speak for
me, and I highly doubt he
speaks for the majority of the
University's population or the
"American people." The
majority of the "American
people," as Fletcher so blithe-
ly puts it, are not as conserv-
ative as Fletcher and the
Republicans would like to
believe. It amazes me that he

behaviors immoral, so what?
At certain times in this coun-
try's history, the majority has
supported slavery, segrega-
tion and the denial of basic
rights, such as the vote to
women. The majority's sup-
port does not, however, make
these actions right.
Fourth, what exactly does
Fletcher mean by "anti-fami-
ly?" Gay and lesbian couples
are fighting in Hawaii right
now for the right to marry,
and will very likely win. In
many states, gay and lesbian
couples have won the right to
adopt children, as well.
Hmm, a loving couple, with
children ... sounds like a
family to me. In this age of a
50 percent divorce rate, why
should two people who care
about each other be denied
the right to marry as a
demonstration of their com-
Fifth, Fletcher is wrong in
saying that "students and fac-
ulty would be able to obtain
the same benefits without
any commitment." This is
simply untrue, as the
University has strict rules on
what constitutes a commit-
ment in order to receive
same-sex benefits.
Finally, gay and lesbian
couples are not destroying
traditional families. In case
Fletcher hasn't noticedso-
called "traditional" families
are doing that all on their
about theft
Alianza believes these
speculative allegations to be
a component of the witch-
hunt against active students
of color at the University.
Alianza understands why
people may feel that the
University and The Michigan
Daily are complicit in creat-
ing a racist atmosphere on
campus. Alianza has always
opposed racism and cultural
supremacy. Alianza has
always contributed to creat-
ing a multicultural environ-
ment in social, cultural and
political realms. We will con-
LSA dean

through departmental curric-
ular initiatives, increased fac-
ulty attention to instructional
innovation and new program-
matic offerings in the first
two years, in addition to the
important topics covered in
your series. We thank you for
bringing this information to
students' attention, and we
hope that you will continue
this valuable service in future
'U' should
support GEO
As a graduate student
instructor in French and as a
dedicated teacher, I wanted to
comment on the Graduate
Employees Organization's
work stoppage for April 8
and 9. It was a very difficult
decision to make, and we
understand fully that it will
disrupt students' lives in the
short term. But by refusing to
bargain on a living wage and
by refusing to do what is
clearly right for international
GSIs, the University is dis-
rupting our lives in a radical
way, in a permanent way and
on a daily basis.
It's a real shame that the
University has pushed us to
this position, but we can't
wait forever for a contract.
We have rent to pay now. If
we don't get a contract
signed this semester, 60 to 70
IGSIs will have to go through
training this summer without
pay, without access to hous-
ing or health insurance and
without a guarantee that they
will even be hired.
GEO is working for
change at this university. We
are working to create a better
environment for teaching and
learning. It is in the long-
term interest of the under-
graduates, despite the tempo-
rary inconvenience.
In a recent article in the
Daily, (University chief nego-
tiation) Dan Gamble said.
"We can achieve a contract
before mediation,"'("GEO
votes for 2-day walk-out,
3/27/96). I find this surpris-
ing coming from someone
who stated that on principle,
the University wouldn't sign
anything before mediation
and even questioned the use-
fulness of meeting between
now and April 10. They've
stopped negotiating.
I don't know why. But it
leaves GSIs with no other
choice but to stop work. The
University team has an oblig-
ation, and they are not meet-
ing it.
They have the power (and
the responsibility) to sign a
fair contract this semester,
and they can do it before

State laws must
uphold the right
to marny for
every citizen
Tast week, more than 150 lesbia
Sand gay couples in San Francisc
got dressed up,
went downtown
and were pro-
nounced legally.
morally and forev-
er after ... domes-3
tic partners.
Mayor Willie
presided over the
ceremony, asked
couples to pledge JEAN
to be "committed TWENGE
to a relationship of
loyalty and mutual caring." At its con-
clusion, however, he could only pro-
nounce them "domestic partners" -
current California law does not allow
gay or lesbian couples to marry.
More and more, the question is
becoming, "Why not?" Hawaii'
Supreme Court soon will be forced t
answer that question.
In a suit filed by three gay couples in
1991, Hawaii will have to prove a
"compelling reason" not to grant
same-sex couples marriage licenses.
Since all states recognize marriage
licenses issued in other states, a gay or
lesbian couple who ties the knot in
scenic Hawaii would be considered
legally married in any state.
Some states are already moving t
prevent this possibility. Idaho, Sou
Dakota and Utah have passed laws bar-
ring same-sex marriages, and legisla-
tures in 15 other states - including
Michigan - are considering passing
similar prohibitions.
Here in Michigan, some legislators
have even proposed withdrawing funds
from state institutions, such as the
University, that offer benefits to the
domestic partners of students
The battle could eventually split the
country in half, with some states rec-
ognizing gay marriage and others out-
lawing it completely. This possibility is
fairly likely, since no one seems able to
answer the question put to Hawaii's
courts: What are the compelling rea-
sons against same-sex marriages?
There really aren't any.
The freedom to marry
has long been recog-
nized as one of the per-
sonal rights essential
to pursue happiness
As columnist Ellen Goodman points
out, marriage in the 20th century is ne
solely about producing children - if
were, infertile couples would be legal-
ly required to divorce and post-
menopausal women would not be
allowed to marry. As it is, some gay
and lesbian couples already raise chil-
Some people - usually religious
conservatives - claim that homosexu-
ality is evil and "immoral"; I suppose
because it's equated with commitment-
free, child-free sex.
If that's true, you'd think they woul
welcome gay marriage, which would
allow homosexual couples to make a
permanent commitment to just one

If the state has any interest in mar-
riage, it must be to encourage' stable,
long-term relationships among its citi-
zenry. Although all of the causes aren't
clear, statistics show that married men
are less likely to drive drunk, commO
crimes or die in auto accidents. Other
public health issues, such as the spread
of AIDS and other STDs, might also
benefit if same-sex marriage were
In addition, it is not clear why the
beliefs of some religious groups
should effect the laws of a state or
country. The United States was found-
ed on the separation of church and
state, and not all religious groups a
opposed to homosexuality.
The opponents of same-sex marriage
may be fighting a losing battle for
another reason: Barring people from
marrying is most likely unconstitution-
The U.S. Supreme Court recognized
the right to marry as a unique civil lib-
erty in the 1967 case of Loving vs.
Virginia - the case that legalized
another kind of union once outlawed
several states: interracial marriage.
"The freedom to marry has long
been recognized as one of the vital per-
sonal rights essential to the orderly
pursuit of happiness' said the Court's
majority opinion. The case erased

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