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February 17, 1997 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-02-17

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4A =The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 17, 1997


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

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

'Well, does he have as much personality as Barbie?'
- Keith Or,; co-owner ofAnn Arbor bar and restaurant Aut,
commenting on "Billy - the world's first out and proud gay doll"


Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the ma jority of the Daily's editorial board. A ll
other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

'U' communi ty fig
A merica's commitment to individual
rights has an unacceptable and gaping
exception - society still prefers to sweep
gay and lesbian lifestyles under the carpet.
At the University, the lesbian, gay, trans-
gender and bisexual community is diligent-
ly committed to dispelling misconceptions.
The annual Queer Unity Project
Valentine's Day Kiss-In is the most visible
of these efforts. On Friday, more than 100
students gathered on the Diag to hear poet-
ry and speeches supporting gay rights and
to spend the day, in the open, with their sig-
nificant others. These events serve as a
valuable eye-opener - they show hetero-
sexuals that life as a lesbian, gay or bisexu-
al should be no different from their own.
The gay community, especially upon
realizing their orientation, often face identi-
ty crises and chronically low self-esteem.
The media floods the airwaves with sexual
images and innuendo - all heterosexual.
There is often pressure from home to date
and marry an opposite-sex spouse. The
University, through the Lesbian Gay
Bisexual and Transgender Programs Office
and various student-run organizations, pro-
vides a support system that helps gay stu-
dents come out of the closet.
A significant portion of America, often
estimated at 10 percent, is gay or lesbian.
Nevertheless, a gay lifestyle, in the eyes of
the majority of the public, remains taboo.
The only way to change attitudes is through
increased visibility. There is a misconcep-
tion that members of the gay community
lead wildly promiscuous lifestyles. The
media perpetuates this myth by stereotyp-
ing gay characters. The reality is that a
majority of gays and lesbians are monoga-
mous and lead dating lives similar to the
rest of America. Television shows and

:hts anti-gay trends
advertisements could help change
American attitudes by focusing on the
mainstream, rather than a small periphery,
of the gay community. Moreover, gays, les-
bians and bisexuals may be more comfort-
able facing their identity were the media to
eliminate unwarranted stereotypes.
In addition to increased visibility, estab-
lishing the legality of gay marriage would
further equality for the gay community.
Hawaiian courts have established that the
state must recognize gay marriage, but
many conservative lawmakers oppose the
decision. Republican Mississippi Gov. Kirk
Fordice, upon signing a bill making
Mississippi the 17th state this year to ban
gay marriage, denounced same-sex rela-
tionships as "perverse," claiming "cultural
subversives have engaged in trench warfare
on traditional family values." The
Mississippi law also denies recognition of
gay marriages performed in other states.
Fordice's reasons for opposition are
unsound. Gay couples are no different than
their heterosexual brethren - they should
have identical rights to marriage and enjoy
the subsequent benefits. Moral and reli-
gious opposition are personal matters and
should remain outside of the hallowed halls
of America's legislatures.
Today, gays, lesbians and bisexuals
should feel more open than ever before. The
QUP Kiss-In demonstrates the strength and
openness of the University's gay community
- but gays are still unacceptably restricted.
Efforts to dispel discrimination must be fur-
thered through the media and establishment
of legally recognized gay marriage. The
Kiss-In must become more than a once-a-
year occurrence - gay and lesbian couples
should be able to feel comfortable and act
affectionately at any time and in any place.

E . SO M E W H E R E IN .L IFO R N IA ... atrR
1 I
ici- --. - 0
- a


A clean battle
Needle exchanges help fight spread of HIV

L ast Thursday, a panel of experts con-
vened by the National Institutes of
Health announced findings that safe-sex
education and clean-needle exchanges are
effective means of preventing the spread of
HIV - and that the federal government
should fund and encourage such programs.
In its report, the NIH committee found
that clean-needle exchange programs in
New Haven, Conn., and in Amsterdam did
rot lead to increased drug use, encourage
young people to start using drugs or cause
more needles to be discarded in public
places. In fact, such programs did reduce -
by 80 percent - the amount of needle-shar-
ing among drug users, which the committee
found led to a 30-percent reduction in new
HIV infections.
The government should embrace the
NIH's findings and put similar programs
into action elsewhere; they are life-saving
strategies. Needle-exchange programs also
have fringe benefits. Health care workers
have found that drug users who build a
trusting relationship with clinicians from
whom they receive clean needles can be -
carefully - encouraged to eventually come
in for drug treatment.
However, the motives behind safe-sex
education and needle-exchange programs
have left conservatives howling. Their main
concern is that, despite findings, safe-sex
education only encourages promiscuous
behavior, and that needle-exchange pro-
grams condone illegal drug use. Such opin-
ions must not stand in the way of preventing
thousands of U.S. citizens from continuing
to aequire HIV everv vear

Drugs are already illegal in the United
States -- but that does not mean the health
of drug users should be ignored. The feder-
al government's primary concern should be
the health of the nation - not just for those
who are already infected with HIV, but for
those who are at risk to acquire it. AIDS is
a preventable disease and it is not a mystery
to the federal government how it is spread.
However, millions of citizens do not
have the advantage of HIV-preventative
education. The behavior that is placing pub-
lic health at greatest risk may be occurring
in legislative bodies. The government must
remove significant political and legal barri-
ers in order for interventions like the nee-
dle-exchange programs.and safe-sex educa-
tion to protect the population from the
spread. of AIDS. The United States has
about 100 needle-exchange programs -
pathetic when compared to the 2,000 pro-
grams in Australia, a country with just one-
tenth the population of the United States.
Some people feel that keeping safe-sex
education out of schools and banning clean
needle-exchange programs is a way of
keeping their children "safe." But this safe-
ty is nothing but ignorance - and an igno-
rance of one of the nation's top killers.
There is no time to decide whether program
participants are "right" or "wrong" -
AIDS is widespread; any and all prevention
tactics are desperately needed. Needle-
exchange programs are not about morals.
Safe-sex education is not about trying to
corrupt "family values." These programs
are trying to keep the nation from killing
itself out of ionorance - nd are aivine

Term does
not include
I want to commend the
Daily on Thursday's coverage
of the Kiss-In and the Sexual
Orientation Panel in which I
participated. However, by
using the term "homosexual"
to encompass the experiences
of lesbian,.gay, bisexual and
transgendered people, the
Daily both mischaracterized
my comments and ignored
the experiences of the many
students on this campus who
identify as bisexual.
The term "homosexual"
means "a person who is pri-
marily attracted to persons of
the same sex." As a bisexual
woman who is involved with
men more often than women,
but remains deeply commit-
ted to queer activism, this
term does not speak to me at
all. Therefore, I explicitly
reject the term "homosexual"
in favor of "queer" or
"LGBT" when talking about
non-heterosexual people.
Ironically, the Daily quoted
me as saying I wanted more
"non-homosexual" people to
come to the sexual orientation
panel - missing the fact that
I myself am not homosexual,
and neither were the bisexual
audience members present.
ZackRaimi's column on
the Kiss-In ("Kiss-In allows
freedom of expression - and
of affection," 2/13/97), while
extremely supportive, also
exclusively discussed homo-
sexuality - for example by
referring to "the homosexual
community" and its goals.
As one of the organizers
of the Kiss-In, I feel strange
coming across this reference
to a community to which I do
not belong and the assump-
tion that the organizers of the
Kiss-In are all homosexual.
In fact, some of us aren't.
The term "queer commu-
nity" or "LGBT community"
more accurately reflects the
composition of campus
activist groups like Queer
Unity Project.
Bisexuals have historically
been excluded from both het-
erosexual and homosexual
communities and are even
told that we really "don't
exist.' This is beginning to
change, but language needs to
changeaas well in order for
bisexuals to feel that our
experiences are validated.
I self-identify as a bisexu-
al activist working within a
queer community. The Daily
needs to refrain from mis-
quoting me and other bisexu-
al students as talking about
"homosexuality,' a word with
which we do not identify.
The Daily and the wider
Michigan community needs
to acknowledge our existence.

student group.
To me, there is a bigger
issue at hand than the actions
that Probir took. During his
term as MSA vice president,
Probir has always made it
known that his first goal is to
assist the students and their
organizations in any way he
can. In this way, he has been
more than just vice president,
he hasn't been only involved
in the day-to-day legislating
of MSA. Probir has been a
true voice of his constituents,
always campaigning for more
funding and assistance from
MSA for student organiza-
True, a mistake was
made, but it was made with
good intentions: to help the
students. Probir is not trying
to hide his mistake, so there
is no reason for this investi-
gation to be happening.
The real issue is if MSA
is doing what they are elected
to do. They are there to assist
the student body. The fault
here is not in Probir's actions,
but in the problem of how to
prevent this from happening
again. How can MSA correct
the system so that organiza-
tions can receive funding in
the summer? This is what
they should be concentrating
on. MSA should be forming
committees of student leaders
to discuss this problem, not
committees of investigation.
If MSA really wants to
"right a wrong" as LSA Rep.
Andy Schor was quoted as
saying, then I urge MSA
members to try to correct the
funding system to better
assist student groups. To Mr.
Schor, righting a wrong
means to correct the situation,
not to try to see who you can
punish. By faulting Probir for
an action he took to defend
the students and to assist an
organization, we gain noth-
MSA, I urge you to be
true leaders, recognize that
the fault lies in the system
and to take a stand to correct
it. Show us before the
upcoming elections that you
sit on MSA to be leaders not
just to be politicians.
Social factors
explain need
for state plan
In Patrick Elkins' letter
("Debate over school control
is 'classist,"'"2/12/97), he
accuses me of showing clas-
sism in a previous letter
("Local control hurts public
school quality," 2/10/97).
Although I was not trying to
demonstrate or support clas-
sism, his interpretation is

a good thing.
Elkins says that people
who have experience with
failing schools will be able to
improve them more easily
than state government offi-
cials. Possibly. But the state
government can bring in tal-
ented personnel who have
either turned around failing
schools or who have at least
had experience in schools
that are not failing, so that
they know what characterizes
a successful school.
Elkins is skeptical that
good teachers leave troubled
school districts in our present
system. Let me first say that I
taught in an urban high
school and I actually
observed the migration pat-
terns I described in my previ-
ous letter. Teachers are real
people and they have many
different motivations, altru-
ism being but one. Money is
a motivator, although when a
teacher leaves a poorer dis-
trict for a more wealthy one,
money is generally much less
of a factor than location and
working conditions. There
are ways to justify leaving to
yourself without feeling like
a shameful deserter. When I
was getting my teacher train-
ing, a master teacher instruc-
tor who taught in a nice sub-
urban school told us, "If you
find that the environment in
the school you are in makes
it impossible for you to teach
and help children, then move
out as soon as you can to a
school where it is possible.
That is what I did."
No, I do not think police-
men and real estate agents
are idiots. But I do think that
the quantity and quality of
academic training of the peo-
ple running the schools will
have an effect on the educa-
tion the children will receive.
That brings us to the class
thing. If we have families
who for generations tend to
fall in the same relative
income bracket and do a sim-
ilar kind of work, then we
have classes. If we have
whole towns where the peo-
ple are predominantly of one
class, then we not only have
classes, but we have segrega-
tion by class.
The breakdown of classes
begins with social mobility.
Social mobility means that a
child has a chance to end up
doing a very different kind of
work and having a different
income level than his or her
parents. Of course we have
some social mobility. But we
would have more if the edu-
cational opportunities for
children were more uniform,
which would be the case if
we had a statewide school
system instead of locally-
controlled schools. There
would also be less economic
segregation, since the huge
variation in the quality of
local schools is one of the
forces that causes affluent
families to live together in

The Material
Girl, material
goals and
judging success
Ignore every opinion you have about
Madonna and imagine you are her.
You have just starred in a role you
have fought over for years, receive
critical acclaim and taken home a
Golden Globe.
You feel you
have finally suc-
Then, the
Oscar nomina-
tions came out
last week and thet.
only major nom-
ination you got
is Best Song.
NotsBest MEGAN
Actress. Not SCHIMPF
So, have you
really succeeded?
It is difficult to argue that Madonna
is unsuccessful. She has sold millions
and millions of records worldwide,
pioneered a place for women in the
music industry and created - the
recreated - a profile known across
the globe.
But in the eyes of the film industry,
she is not successful. She remains a
music star.
Success is one of the most intangible
goals to grasp, and challenging to
define. It is difficult to attain and even
more difficult to hold onto.
Admissions committees, hiring com-
mittees and professors each have ways
to evaluate how much we have accom{
plished. And so we collect letters of
recommendation, honors and grade
point averages and we write essay
upon essay about where we see our-
selves in 10 years and what motivated
us to apply.
In some ways, it is accurate. Most of
us have invested long hours and high
stress levels to get our academic
records to where they are now. To see
that goal realized is satisfying.
And grade point averages are not
entirely random - they do represent,
to some degree, how well we per-
formed in a majority of our classes.
Over time, the "average" part should
eliminate the class you just couldn't
care about, or the one you just couldn't
understand, no matter how hard you
But in the end, numbers, letters and
words do not paint a complete pictur
of who we are or what we have
attained. Because they are not the
whole picture of what it took to suc-
ceed, or what it takes to continue to be
When we leave school, and enter the
"real world" - whatever that may be
- the ability to memorize facts or
recite details is not usually a predictor
for success. Thus, people with the
highest grade points don't always en
up with the most prestige.
At the University, we have a sense of
this seeming paradox. To be accepted
here, everyone had to be smart or very
good at something. Everyone had an
impressive high school resume. .But
not everyone makes it past the first
year, and not everyone graduates.
Including Madonna.
So there is adquality to success that
has nothing to do with studying,
exams or research. It has to do with
perseverance, the ability to fail and
start over again, strength, determina-

tion and the power to leave it all for a
little while to stay sane. And the sense
to determine when you are a success,
even when no one else agrees.
Getting a good grade in a class
might not require any of these traits.
Ironically, getting a less-than-good
grade might require all of them. The
most educational classes tend to be the
ones that confine us to long hours ofg
studying, to attending every lecture
and office hours,, and to challenging
our limits each time we open a book or
read through notes.
And so we are left with a definition
of success that is constantly changing
depending on the circumstances.
Everyone, in truth, has their own way
of defining when we have succeeded
- it is when we sit back and think we
have done exactly what we wanted to
do, and done it well. It is when we
finally stop and take a deep breath for
a moment before tackling the next
While graduating from college is a
step toward later success, it is not com-
plete. It is not enough to forget the
lessons college has taught us, beyond
exams, facts, equations and essays.
Strength, determination, perseverance
and grace in the face of failure are just
as important off campus as they are
The problems, readings and experi-
ments that have determined grade
point averages over the years will be





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