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February 18, 1997 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-02-18

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4- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 18, 1997

able £idh4&un &dig
420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 JOSH WHITE
Editor in Chief
Edited and managed by
students at the Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan.
Unless otherwise noted, unsigned edit rials 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.
Shaky ground
MSA committee must stick to issue at hand

'Awesome. It's the secretary of state.'
-An American student in Italy, upon spotting
US. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Rome
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tudents often perceive the Michigan
Student Assembly as an arena for future
politicians to practice their craft - espe-
cially when scandals arise. In an effort to
improve its name, MSA voted to create a
committee to investigate Vice President
Probir Mehta's $500 transfer to the United
Asian American Organization without
assembly approval. Last Tuesday, a divided
assembly passed LSA Rep. Andy Schor's
resolution one week after it initially failed
in a secret-ballot vote. The committee's
search for the truth is paramount - the
investigation must not become a political
instrument of any MSA faction.
Several students attended Tuesday
night's meeting to complain about the
assembly's secret-ballot vote. As a result,
Engineering Rep. David Burden moved to
reconsider the resolution and hold a roll-
icall vote - stating he was "tired of the
image of cowardice" cast upon MSA as a
result of the secret ballot. After a short 10-
minute debate on the issue, the assembly
voted to form the committee by a narrow
margin of 13-12, with 2 abstaining. The
extraordinary conditions surrounding the
vote make its integrity questionable.
MSA's composition on Tuesday was dif-
ferent than at the resolution's first vote. Not
only were there fewer members present, but
the investigative committee's most vocal
opponents were absent - preventing both
sides' original intensity. While the first con-
sideration of the resolution held an hour-
long debate, 'Tuesday's was short and unin-
formative. Representatives absent the previ-
bus week did not have the benefit of the
entire discussion -- making their decision

difficult and clouded.
The committee will investigate Mehta's
actions and recommend a proper conse-
quence - ranging from acquittal to recall
from the assembly. The committee must
make impartiality its primary goal and
avoid personal or partisan attacks.
Representatives resorted to bitter spats
over the investigative committee. LSA Rep.
Ryan Friedrichs resigned from his appoint-
ment to the investigative committee, "dis-
gusted" at its formation - Schor stated he
felt the same way when the resolution ini-
tially failed.
The vote to form the committee was nar-
row - indicating a strong division on the
issue. In such a hostile atmosphere, bias
could turn the investigation into a series of
personal vendettas - further damaging stu-
dents' perceptions of MSA.
It is imperative that committee members
investigate all information from both sides
of the argument. The committee should
focus on serving the student constituency
Allowing partisanship and personality dif-
ferences to rear their heads would accom-
plish little and would make MSA, as an
institution, look foolish. The committee's
power to recommend punishment is signifi-
cant; it must prevent rash judgments from
blocking the goal.
The investigation into Mehta's actions
faced a rocky road in its formation. The
vote to form the committee was shady -
especially considering the circumstantial
conditions. For the committee to fulfill stu-
dents' wants, it must prevent bias from
being a factor in its decision - students'
faith in MSA depends on it.

Into thin air
Gore's plan should improve air safety

As spring break travels grow closer, air-
line safety may be on student travel-
ers' minds. In lieu of recent aviation
tragedies, it is indeed on the minds of mem-
bers of the Clinton Administration. Last
Sweek, a panel headed by Vice President Al
Gore presented President Clinton with
dozens of new proposals to heighten air
safety and security. The panel made clear
that the United States has been too lax with
security measures in comparison to other
countries around the world and that many
changes are necessary. While some contro-
versial items need to be carefully imple-
mented, these new proposals are necessary
for safe travel and peace of mind.
One item would radically change how
the nation's air traffic system is funded. It
urged spending $100 million a year on cap-
ital requirements identified by the Federal
Aviation Administration. This would
include a highly technical overhaul of the
FAA's aging air traffic control computers.
While lawmakers have already raised ques-
tions about where this would fit into the
federal budget, money should not be the
issue. Aviation security is a national securi-
ty issue and the federal government should
provide substantial funding for capital
improvements linked to American citizens'
"Safety at all costs" was the issue at
hand during the panel report. Clinton said
the government was already installing 54
sophisticated bomb-detection machines at
key airports and training and deploying
more than 100 bomb-sniffing dog teams.
He also said that the FAA was hiring 300
new agents to test airport security, and that
the FBI was adding 644 new agents and 620

recent air disasters warmly received the
proposed improvements. Many more
should welcome Gore's plans as vast
improvements to national security and as a
Clinton Administration promise kept.
However, one counter-terrorism measure
is causing controversy. The report endorses
a computerized "profiling" system of all
travelers to weed out potential terrorists,
who would then undergo further inspection.
With government officials instructing air-
lines to collect data in dozens of categories,
such as how tickets are purchased, the num-
ber of traveling companions and flight des-
tination, the proposal flirts with danger. It
falls close to the fine line between public
security and a violation of individual rights.
Civil libertarians have already made noise.
To alleviate the problem, the plan includes
numerous safeguards that would bar airlines
from collecting data on passengers' race,
religion, or nation of origin; while height-
ened safety measures are necessary, 'they
must not unfairly target specific groups.
The ultimate goal is to reduce the num-
ber of fatal air traffic accidents by 80 per-
cent within the next 10 years. If the govern-
ment can improve air travel safety by
heightening security measures, that is what
it should do. Often, airlines allow travelers
to board without asking a single question or
searching a single bag. The new proposals
attempt to change that.
Proposals that could infringe upon per-
sonal liberties must proceed with caution.
However, with increased air traffic safety
and national security as the goal, travelers
should be patient when dealing with new
security measures. What might seem like a
hassle to travelers today could mean

Oldest thrift
shop omitted
from story
Your Jan. 23 Weekend,
etc. cover story on used
clothing should have includ-
ed the oldest and, we think,
the best used clothing store
in Ann Arbor: the Ann Arbor
Thrift Shop at 1149
Broadway Street, near North
Campus. Because the shop is
entirely run by more than 200
volunteers, including Mayor
Ingrid Sheldon, 75 percent of
our sales last year could go
right back into the communi-
ty - more than $95,000 to
social service agencies and
individuals who needed
emergency assistance.
Since the Thrift Shop has
been in continuous operation
since 1932, it is well-known
in Ann Arbor and benefits
from thousands of generous
donations of high-quality,
gently used clothing and
household items each year.
Resale prices average about
$2 for a shirt and $5 for a
Your next article on resale
stores in Ann Arbor should
include the Ann Arbor Thrift
MSA must
fulfill its
to students
I am writing about my
concern with the action the
Michigan Student Assembly
has taken for the situation
involving Probir Mehta. It
disturbs me to see that MSA
is taking one-fourth of this
semester to investigate the
actions of a specific person
when this time would better
be served to investigate its
own fault in this case.
MSA exists to represent
students on campus, which
includes the student groups
in which many students are
members. In this situation,
MSA was not fulfilling its
responsibilities during the
summer months due to the
lack of a mechanism to allo-
cate funds with a reduced
attendance. United Asian
American Organizations, the
group that was attempting to
make the request for funds at
the time, was not even
allowed to make their
request. It is not an issue of
whether they were going to
receive the allocation or not.
The group was not even

allowed to appear before
MSA. The support MSA is
supposed to be giving is
extremely lacking during the
spring/summer terms.
This is significant consid-
ering that this constitutes
one-third of the calendar year
and many groups take this
time to do work for the
school year. This is an issue
of concern for all student
groups on campus.
action is
good for 'U,
I would just like to
respond to David Jackson's
letter ("Admissions should be
colorblind") from last
Friday's Daily.
I think my roommate
explained the situation best to
me when he told me of his
orientation experience. Some
students were grumbling
about affirmative action and
the orientation leader
explained to them that if the
University only looked at
personal performance, the
University would be filled
with mostly East Coast
women. (Not that I have any-
thing against East Coast
women, in fact I would have
no reservations in going to a
school filled with them.)
However, getting back to
my point, we should feel for-
tunate that we do have an
ethnically diverse environ-
ment. In having quotas and
whatnot, the University is not
only giving minorities a bet-
ter chance at a good educa-
tion, but self-proclaimed
"angry white males" as well.
Morals play
an important
political role
In Monday's editorial
"Out, proud and unified,"
(2/17/97) the statement was
made that "moral and reli-
gious oppositions are person-
al matters and should remain
outside of the hallowed halls
of America's legislatures."
This is one of the many mis-
conceptions people have
regarding morality and poli-
tics. Since morality really
judges right from wrong, all
politics really is a question of
Many of the stands that
are made by people who
oppose the morality of

American conservatives
interject their own morality
into politics all of the time.
Any anti-discrimination law
relies on a moral principle
that discrimination is wrong.
Other questions of morals
in politics include welfare
(and other redistributions of
money), environmental pro-
tection and "animal rights."
Even the Libertarian Party, a
group that wants to reduce
the government to almost
nothing, takes a stand on
morality; they state that the
use of force in pursuing
social objectives is immoral.
The bottom line is that
any political question con-
cerns what is right and what
is wrong. The difference
between political associations
is not morality vs. amorality.
The real difference is in
which morality you choose to
Shuttle story
k facts
I was very pleased to see
that you wrote about the
space shuttle Discovery's suc-
cessful launch in last
Wednesday's Daily
("Discovery crew chases ail-
ing Hubble," 2/1297), espe-
cially since it occurred at 4
a.m. that day.
However, I am very disap-
pointed in the way you cov-
ered the event. First, the title
of the article is very false:
"Discovery crew chases ail-
ing Hubble." This is not true.
The Hubble is not ailing at
all. Instead, the Discovery
crew is on a mission to
replace some outdated instru-
ments on the Hubble. Those
instrument packages have
been on the telescope since
its initial launch and are
being replaced with more
advanced models.
Also, your last sentence
states," ... will try tomorrow
to replace two of the shuttle's
original scientific instru-
ments." This may seem a bit
picky, but it is the Hubble's
instruments that are being
America's manned space
program has gotten very little
media coverage over the last
couple of years. Please, when
you do cover an event, be
sure to get all your facts
straight. I suggest you sub-
scribe to the daily press
releases from Kennedy Space
Center for day-to-day accu-
rate information on the.shut-
tle fleet.

The UJA Half-
Shekel drive:
Because every
one counts
And the Lord spoke unto Moses. sa'-
ing. When thou takest the sum of the
children of Israel after their number
This the shall give, every one th
passeth among them that are num-
bered, half a
shekel ... as an
offering to the
- Exodus 30:
11-13 '2
(~od's directive
to Moses -
to take acensus of
the children ofs
Israel and to col-
lect from each a SAMUEL
half-shekel - GOODSTEIN
helped establish a GRAND
strong sense of ILSO
c o mmnun ity
among the Israelites. In ancient times,
each Jew in the world was expected to
give a half-shekel annually to support
the Temple in Jerusalem; the money
was important, but so was the sense
unity, of inclusion, that the half-shekeT
Today, after millenia of persecution,
that same notion of community. of
inclusion, remains vital to the survival
of the Jewish people. Indeed, each
generation of Jews is faced with the
same challenge: to maintain a sense of
community and identity. Without this
identity, without the knowledge that
Jews will stand by each other, how
could the Jewish people survive?
My generation of Jews, like count-
less before it, is always searching for
ways to maintain important traditions,
to be strong both in spirit and in num-
bers, and to foster a sense of Jewish
identity. In the diaspora, this is no
small challenge.
A group of University students,
along with Hillel Executive Director
Michael Brooks, have developed
brilliant response to this challeng
The Half-Shekel Campaign. With the
campaign logos - a blue and yellow
circle with the words "Who Cares" or
"Because Every One Counts" printed
beside it - already the most common
sight on campus, the month-old cam-
paign is steadily working toward its
goal: Receiving a contribution of at
least $1 to the United Jewish Appeal
(UJA) from each Jew - and many
non-Jews - on campus.0
To accomplish this means tackling
the gargantuan task of identifying all
6,000 Jews in the University commu-
nity and contacting each one. All con-
tributions will be collected through
face-to-face interaction; the drive will
employ no phone banks and no solici-
tations in the mail.
But the student-run campaign is
about much more than raising mone
its objective is not only to raise fund
but to raise people. The plan is to
achieve total participation (meaning
every Jewish student, faculty and
staff-member contributes) within a
few years; 70 percent is the target for
this year.
To be sure, if total participation is
achieved, the campaign will raise a
large sum for charity; but there is
much more going on. This is about
community, about inclusion and abo
campus Jews of all stripes grapp in
with the question of what it means to
be Jewish.

Of course, the money raised will go
to a very worthy cause. A cause that is,
incidentally, focused on assisting Jews
and non-Jews alike. The UJA - the,
recipient of the funds raised in the
Half-Shekel Campaign - helps pro-
vide emergency counseling and shelter
for abused women and children, send
doctors and medical supplies to
refugees in Rwanda, supports homes
for the elderly, helps resettle immi-
grants fleeing distressed countries,
supports Jews, Moslems and
Christians in the former Yugoslavia,
among many other things.
In theory, at least, the Half-Shekel
campaign could unite Jews around the
world; as they were in ancient times.
Ani Nisman, the campaign chair, to
me as much: "If it works at Michiga
it could work at any other campus.
Eventually, the Half-Shekel Eampaign
could touch Jews, and non-Jews,
Whether or not this campaign
becomes a national effort, it should
have an important impact on the
University's Jewish community. At the
end of each academic year, the cam-
paign will run an advertisement in tg
newspaper, thanking all contributors
by name. The point: To make this cam-
paign a part of the Jewish social fabric
on campus and to tell the world that
being Jewish means being charitable
and looking out for others who are in

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