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April 10, 1997 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-04-10

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 10, 1997

ighle ![rr ig m tt r1

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

JOSH WHITE
Editor in Chief
ERIN MARSH
Editorial Page Editor

"NOTABLE QUOTABLE,
'There has been some good work done on planning for
the University campus, but we need a new master plan
for achieving a true sense of unification.'
- University President Lee Bollinger who announced Tuesday that
he will move his office from the Fleming Building to central campus
YUKl KUINIYUuKK G UN ZERO

'Great books'
requitrement
would enrich

0

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily s editorial hoard. A ll
other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
FROM THE DAILY
Language leson
LSA requirement does not achieve its goals
T he LSA language requirement: Students untarily elect. Students should be able to
can't live with it, the University can't take the class without worrying about its
hivcwithout it. In an effort to rectify the gen- effects on their GPA.
eral attitude of distaste toward the language Another of the group's recommendations
department, the LSA student government is to move the focus of upper-level language
urged the University to create a task force classes away from vocabulary and grammar
comprised of students and faculty to improve and toward broader lessons of the culture
language department class offerings and itself. Administrators in the German depart-
study abroad programs. ment have redesigned the curriculum for
The group's report, released on Monday, upper-level German classes to offer differ-
recommended changes to broaden the ent sections with different foci, such as con-
appeal of taking a foreign language. While centrations on science or mystery literature.
the efforts to make the current situation Classes like these offer a more comprehen-
more palatable are admirable, the sive look at the culture itself, rather than
University seems to be missing the point. disjointed language lessons that students
'iie task force recommended the expan- will probably not master in four semesters.
sion of programs that allow students to The lack of interest in language classes
study abroad and make them more accessi- does not always surround the content itself,
ble to students. Granted, studying abroad is but the fact that the class is required. Many
a valuable opportunity and is also a surefire students shy away from requirements; facing
way of learning another language. Being four days of language classes a week for two
inersed in a culture and a language are years is a dour chore. Students' frustration in
certainly beneficial to one's academic the classroom also affects language class
endeavors. However, the pursuit of most instructors. It is arduous to instruct a class
students' academic endeavors is graduation when the students simply do not care.
- something that, in LSA, requires four The language requirement exists to
seinesters' proficiency in a language. The broaden students' minds in an effort to col-
requirement does not entice most students lapse their ethnocentric notions. However,
to_ travel to Spain to learn Spanish; they spending hours memorizing flash cards
simply want to achieve 232-level Spanish does little to boost one's cultural awareness.
proficiency and be done with it. On the other hand, the LSA Race and
.n 1995, the University implemented a Ethnicity requirement serves as a useful
rule that does not allow students who tool. R&E accomplishes what the language
entered school in the fall of 1995 or later to requirement does not or cannot.
take their final semester of a language with Remembering how to ask, "Where is the
a pass/fail modification. With this move, bathroom?" in French may help students
the University abolished students' last say- somewhere along the line, but it does little
ing grace from the language requirement. to expand their cultural horizons. While the
Placing a two-year requirement on students, task force's suggestions improve LSA stu-
then disallowing them take their final dents' current situation, the University's
semester pass/fail, places a burden on stu- ultimate goal should focus on more effec-
dents to succeed in classes they do not vol- tive educational curricula.
Snlssckers
State-endorsed diplomas do not help students

DO t zUI os

CDON,,,,e" 410MOref)

- -
.---
7t_
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

M ost students stop getting stickers for
good schoolwork when they are in
the second grade. Michigan's state-endorsed
diploma system brings stickers back to stu-
dents for bureaucratic and arbitrary reasons.
During his administration, Gov. John Engler
made several changes to the state's public
education system, including mandating that
all high school seniors work to receive a
state endorsement. Engler's educational
brainchild strips schools of their autonomy
and inches closer to his goal of state-con-
trolled education systems. It threatens stu-
dents' opportunities and could adversely
affect state universities' admissions policies.
Engler's proposals for expanding the state-
endorsed diploma program pose a threat to
students' welfare. He should work to
increase educational quality by offering
state support, not control.
Under the present system, Michigan high
school students must take yet another battery
of standardized tests to receive a state
endorsement. Many problems in the past
demonstrate that these tests can interrupt the
educational system. Recently, students with
multiple test identification numbers cropped
up in schools with largely transient student
populations. The problem created a record-
keeping nightmare and highlights problems
with the system. The state should re-examine
Engler's emphasis on state endorsements to
find a system that benefits students.
Engler has demonstrated state control of
education as one of his top priorities. State
endorsement tests serve as an ineffective
means by which to evaluate individual

- threatening to invalidate schools' work.
The state should ensure that such tactics do
not interfere with students' education.
Engler's latest plan for state-endorsed
diplomas would require them for admission
to state universities. The proposal could pose
a threat to admissions policies. While in-
state students work for a state-endorsed
diploma, there is no single comparable sys-
tem for out-of-state students. This could cre-
ate an unfair situation; while in-state stu-
dents who did not receive a state-endorsed
diploma would face threatened eligibility,
out-of-state students would not face the
same criteria. Engler's proposed emphasis on
state endorsements could cause admissions
problems, threatening universities' ability to
find the most qualified students.
Requiring state endorsements could also
threaten affirmative action efforts. So-
called "standardized" tests include biases
against racial and ethnic minorities.
Therefore, urban areas with high minority
populations tend to score lower on state-
administered tests, preventing qualified stu-
dents in those areas from getting adequate
attention. The University emphasizes on
affirmative action; requiring state endorse-
ments for applicants could threaten affir-
mative action -- and the diversity of the
student population -- by limiting the
minority applicant pool.
Using state endorsements to determine
academic progress could hinder schools'
ability to do their jobs. Engler should allow
school districts to educate without bureau-
cratic interference. He must stop using edu-

Promote
effective
activism
TO THE DAILY:
Last Friday evening, as I
was walking out of a restau-
rant, I noticed a large mass of
people walking down the
street with candles. I was curi-
ous, so I joined the march and
asked a gentleman why they
were marching. He explained
that it was a peace rally in
support of racial unity on the
anniversary of the assassina-
tion of Dr. Martin Luther
King. I initially felt really
good about what was going
on. The street was filled with
young children and adults of
various races, peacefully
marching on a nice night.
However, it soon struck
me however, that there were
no college students to be
seen. Aside from a few
friends that saw me and
joined me in the march, I
could not see any other stu-
dents. I could only hope that
there were large groups fur-
ther up or down the line, but
unfortunately I somehow
doubt that. I began to wonder
if University President Lee
Bollinger was right, misquote
or not. Maybe activism is
dead among students.
I remember reading in the
Daily that day about a stu-
dent protest that interrupted a
reception for Bollinger
("Student group crashes
Bollinger reception," 4/4/97).
A fierce mob of 25 angrily
shouting demands. Is that all
we are capable of now?
Groups of 10 or 20 people
stomping around with a
"screw-you-give-us-what-we-
want" mentality?
I really hope that the stu-
dent groups learn something
from the march. A group of
people quietly and peacefully
walking down the street con-
veyep more meaning and
sense of purpose then any
small band of irate students
yelling and venting their
hate. They wonder why no
one listens to them.
ANDREW KIM
LSA SOPHOMORE
ISR news
feature was
'professional'
To THE DAILY:
Thanks for the profession-
al reporting job by Marc
Lightdale of the Daily news
staff ("Setting the standards,
tracking the trends," 4/4/97).
His overview of the
University's Institute for
Social Research and its many
facets was well done. We
appreciate the feature and the

he fails to recognize that a
gun salesperson is not
required by law to show a
potential customer graphic
images of the victims of gun
violence or discuss alterna-
tives to purchasing a gun
(such as, "Can we interest
you in a slingshot instead?").
Such actions would be inter-
preted by the customer as an
argument for not purchasing
a gun. The 24-hour wait for
an abortion, including cover-
ing state specified literature,
works in a similar manner.
Advocates of the law
claim that the state is simply
providing information so that
a woman can make an educat-
ed choice. The state is clearly
not objective, however: When
a woman facing an unwanted
pregnancy makes any choice
other than abortion, there are
no laws requiring her to
reconsider her choice. Can
you imagine the state requir-
ing adoption agencies to pro-
mote abortion as a viable
alternative? Once an abortion
is performed, the decision is
final, but using this as an
argument for the waiting peri-
od implies that choosing to
bring a child into the world is
somehow a less permanent
choice. After a certain point,
either choice is permanent.
Doctors are responsible
for advising patients on the
physical and psychological
effects of a medical procedure
as well as assessing patients'
ability to provide informed
consent. The state should not
assume either of these roles
in an attempt to promote a
social agenda. Abortion is a
unique procedure and the
state may be within its rights
in requiring doctors to ask if
abortion alternatives have
been considered. However,
the state must not dictate how
a doctor explains the medical
aspects of abortion (or any
other procedure) to his or her
patients, nor should it impose
an arbitrary 24-hour delay.
If the doctor feels a patient
needs more time to fully con-
sider her options, he or she
can advise her to wait.
Informed consent involves
making an educated choice,
not withstanding a last-minute
propaganda blitz. A doctor is
responsible to patients, not a
script written by politicians.
The question regarding
the wait period law is not
whether abortion is right or
wrong - the fact is that
abortion is legal. As such, the
state should leave the respon-
sibility of providing medical
information in doctors' hands
and not pass laws that imply
that one of a woman's legal
choices is inappropriate.
DAViD MoT
RACKHAM
Feminists
want hbaic

advantages that men experi-
ence.
Contrary to Godwin's
beliefs, heterosexual sex is
not always consensual; rape
occurs at an alarming and
frightening frequency. An
estimated 1.3 rapes against
women occur every minute in
this country; I out of 4 col-
lege women are victims of
sexual assault. A woman is
forced to take responsibility
for sex, whether it is consen-
sual or not, whereas men can
avoid this responsibility.
In an ideal world, both
men and women have the
responsibility to support and
raise their children. However,
realistically, women are often
forced to take on this respon-
sibility themselves. The new
welfare laws require women
to establish paternity of the
child, but this is much less
beneficial to the woman than
Godwin believes. It is often
extremely difficult to establish
paternity because of issues
concerning rape, domestic
violence, teenage pregnancy
and incest. Godwin's assertion
that "a man's choice to
become a parent ends with
sexual intercourse" is exactly
the same belief that leads
many men to abandon their
responsibilities as parents and
forces many women and chil-
dren to live in poverty.
Godwin also claims that a
problem in our society is that
men are "seen as objects
rather than people' whereas
women are treated as people.
This statement is almost
humorous, given that women
have historically been viewed
and treated solely as sexual
and secondary objects. This is
evident in the prevalence of
pornography, sexual assault,
violence against women and
gender inequality.
The views and beliefs of
people like Godwin only
serve to perpetuate sexism
and inequality in our society.
RACHEL EDELMAN
LSA FIRST-YEAR STUDENT
'Voltron' fan
challenges
Mega Zord
To THE DAILY:
This is not a letter in
response to an article in the
Daily. However, it is a letter
of request about an issue that
weighs heavily upon the
minds ofthe students of the
University. I was wondering
if you could please take a
poll of students about an
extremely sensitive issue.
Recently, the Cartoon
Network added Voltron to its
afternoon lineup, which has
created mass hysteria
throughout the student body
and unleashed a wave of pure
unadulterated pleasure.

U experience
The thought of what America would
be like
If the Classics had a wide circulation
Troubles my sleep
- Ezra Pound, "Cantico Del Sole"
T housands of
students will,
graduate from col-
leges across
America next
month. Sadly,
many of these soon
to-be-graduates
have never read
H o m er' s
"Odyssey' or
Virgil's "Aeneid." ZACHARY M.
Unlike Ezra Pound, RAIMI
I'm not troubled by SMOKE &
Americans reading MIRRORS
the classics - I'm
troubled that they don'
As my time at the University draws
to a close, I have come to the conclu-
sion that this school needs a classics
requirement. Each first-year stude
should be required to take a Great
Books-type course that teaches the
classics of world literature. Currently,
the University is churning out large
portions of students with no founda-
tion in such works and, as a result, they
have less-developed intellects. This
proposal is not elitist; instead, it is the
result of my beneficialdexperiences
with such works and my deep sense of
sadness that I have not had to rea
more.
It is hard to define exactly what are
'igreat books,' and implementing such
a requirement would undoubtedly spur
debate among academics and students.
Generally, the classics are works of
tremendous political, historical and lit-
erary significance and influence. They
have transcended the cultures and tine
periods from which they were created
to speak to a universal audience abo
universal themes and value
Examples include: Homer's "Iliad"
and "Odyssey'writings by Plato and
Aristotle, Dante's "The Divine
Comedy," Shakespeare and John
Milton's "Paradise Lost"
I am not sure how a requirement
would work; I'll leave that to the
administrators. Instead, I wish to
explain why such a requirement would
be beneficial to all students.
Manyestudents, administrators an
faculty members object to stringent
requirements. These people argue that
they limit personal choice and make
graduating in four years difficult
Moreover, many argue that required
courses enroll lessmotivated students
which harms the learning process. All
of this may be true. If the University
were to adopt this requirement, it
would have to use quality instructor
and not make graduation more diff
cult. While the objections are valid, the
benefits of such a requirement would
far outweigh any inconveniences.
There are three compelling reasons
to have such a requirement. First, the
classics are the foundation for all of
world literature and much of history. A
background in the classics would
allow students todeepen their under
standing of the literature that has
developed since. For example, a st
dent's understanding of Milton i
enhanced if he or she has read Homer.
And knowing Dante makes Pound's
and T.S. Eliot's poetry more accessible
and meaningful. The classics, then,
open worlds of understanding to cul-
tural and literary references; without
such a background, the path to knowl-
edge is forever dim.

A second reason for the requirement
is that the classics include themes th
dominate our popular literature an
culture today, and reading these works
would deepen our perspective. For
example, in "The Iliad," themes
include sibling rivalry, infidelity, jeal-
ousy, the struggle for honor and the
effects of war. And "The Divine
Comedy" explores the varying degrees
of sin and the complexity surrounding
morality.
By reading the original stories th
dealt with these themes, students ca*
view the world in more complex
terms. Also, they can develop strate-
gies and insights for dealing with com-
plex moral and philosophical prob-
lems that plague them. And in a larger
sense, students can gain a better
understanding of human nature.
Third, the classics would benefit stu-
dents in their studies. History and
political science majors can lear
about various time periods and th
social and political factors that affect-
ed culture. For example, "The Divine
Comedy" is, in part, a political critique
of Italy in the Middle Ages and con-
tains much historical information

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