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September 08, 1997 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-08

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 8, 1997

GIc tichigttn :43tclt

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

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

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.
loEa-Iit y threatend

'The city will not be the sane again. People
who need her most do not even have the
power to look for a substitute.'
- Calcutta shopkeeper Khokan Sen, as he waited to pay his final
respects to Mother Teresa, who passed away on Friday at the age of 87
Wi W' 1,

'U' must stand strong
T he nation's most powerful affirmative
action opponents are looking to butt
heads with the University. David Jaye (R-
Washington Twp.) and three other conserv-
ative legislators are seeking the Center for
Individual Rights' assistance in challenging
the University's affirmative action policy.
CIR, as the plaintiff's legal counsel in
Hopwood v. Texas, poses a formidable
The University's unwavering commit-
ment to diversity gives students the prereq-
uisite skills needed to work in today's mul-
ticultural society. CIR and other affirmative
action opponents, if successful, would
cause irreparable , harm; forcing the
University to serve only a homogenous
cross-section of white and privileged state
residents would leave graduates unprepared
to face the working world.
Since introducing the Michigan
Mandate, the University has increased its
minority population from 12.7 percent in
1987 to 25 percent this year. Employers
increasingly desire graduates with multicul-
tufal skills, and the University's environ-
ment is now better suited than ever to
accommodate this need. Moreover, all state
citizens' taxes help fund the University -
these tax dollars should ensure accessibility.
However, minorities often face circum-
stances that normally would make it impos-
sible to continue their education beyond
high school. The Mandate has opened a
window of opportunity - a world-class
education is now available for many minor-
ity students.
Merely upholding affirmative action is
not enough - University officials cannot
allow efforts to attract minorities to lose
steam. Last year, the admissions office
experienced a dearth of minority applica-
tions and extended the admissions deadline
for minority students in a desperate move to
correct the problem. These last-minute

leave out the


on affirmative action
actions should not be necessary.
Restructuring recruiting efforts could reach
the students whom current efforts do not.
Innovative programs such as on-site admis-
sion, where students can apply directly to
admissions officers during school hours,
should be expanded to prevent a repeat of
last year's situation.
The University of Texas provides an
alarming example of the consequences of
eliminating affirmative action programs. A
year following the Hopwood decision,
which upheld plaintiffs' claims that the uni-
versity's admissions policy discriminated
based on race, total applications to the
school have decreased 13 percent.
Scholarships designed to attract minority
students have been eliminated and the num-
ber of African American students entering
the University of Texas law school has
dropped to a sparse handful.
The landmark Supreme Court Bakke v.
California decision stipulates that race can
be a factor, but not the sole overriding fac-
tor, in public university admissions deci-
sions. Jaye calls University policies "unfair,
un-American and evil," and is looking to
bring a class-action lawsuit against the
University alleging discrimination in
admissions and financial aid. Jaye's reason-
ing is flawed - the University also gives
similar consideration to children of alumni,
students from exemplary high schools and
applicants from under-represented regions
of the nation and Michigan. Thus, the
University falls well within Bakke's estab-
lished guidelines.
A lawsuit against the University - with
its status as a large, public and selective
school with a strong commitment to affir-
mative action - is inevitable. The
University must vigorously undermine any
of Jaye's, CIR's and other potential plain-
tiffs' erroneous claims - affirmative
action's future may hang in the balance.


v'1 ~XA~D

Affirmative acti s emarstood

The controversial and high-
ly misunderstood concept of
affirmative action has long
been a topic of Daily letters to
the editor as well as a signifi-
cant platform on the national
and state levels. For many,
affirmative action is one of
many "sunset legislations" that
has served its purpose and
should be done away with. For
others, it is a lukewarm push
towards the abatement of racial
and gender misrepresentation
and inequality in our nation.
For still others, it is an ethereal
idea shrouded by questions and
self-admitted ignorance.
All too often, we see the
potent ideology behind the
concept of affirmative action
trampled upon and forgotten
by innocent arguers and
debaters who have a funda-
mental misunderstanding of
what exactly this policy is and
what it seeks to accomplish.
Affirmative action, as I
understand it, is the idea that,
in order to correct the faulty
balance of racial representa-
tion in our society, race, gen-
der and ethnicity must all
become factors in the evalua-
tion of candidates who wish to
occupy positions in it.
Affirmative action does not
seek to wipe out racism in
America, nor does it seek to
facilitate the selection of hope-
lessly unqualified candidates
solely based on their race or
gender. The latter is counter-
productive, the former is
impossible. What needs to be
clarified is that most affirma-

tive action supporters realize
that the policy in itself is
flawed; it is not a perfect solu-
tion to creating a level playing
field in our society because it
does serve to select candidates
based on color or gender rather
than their merit. This. is irrele-
vant, however, when one real-
izes that the entire point of this
less-than-perfect system is to
integrate minorities into acad-
emia and professional commu-
nities. Try to understand that
this idea is at most a gentle tug
at the sleeve of the empowered
white male American elite
when one takes into account
the three centuries of misrepre-
sentation and exploitation of
American people on the basis
of gender, race and even class.
The average anti-affirmative
action argument exemplifies the
creed of the average American:
"Me, me, me!" American soci-
ety is based completely on the
individual. America - unlike
nations such as Japan or Africa
- has built a social ecosystem
around the concept of the indi-
vidual over the group, rather
than allowing times where the
group is more significant than
the individual. - Every single
anti-affirmative action voice I
have ever heard has been the
same in this respect: they all
hate the idea of one person
being overlooked because of
something other than sheer
I hate that idea too.
Because no one ever wants to
make any sort of sacrifice in
America to help the greater
good (which would be a bal-

anced representation of all of
America's rich ethnic and racial
diversity in positions of power
and influence) the anti-affirma-
tive action rally becomes a sim-
ple two-word anthem: "Why
me?" Right now someone is
reading this and saying, "Why
should I be punished for what
happened to them?" Because it
is your group that holds the vast
majority of power and influ-
ence in America. Look at it this
way: Something very, very spe-
cial happened to minority
groups in America in the past
300 years. Now something spe-
cial needs to be done to help
them along so America can
truly celebrate its diversity, not
claim that serious racism does-
n't exist.
I challenge all anti-affir-
mative action individuals to
recognize and admit to their
fruitless behavior. I, for one,
am a bit tired of reading and
hearing opposition to some-
thing as controversial and
important as affirmative action
when the voice I hear offers
absolutely no better alterna-
tive. Yes, affirmative action
hurts some while it helps oth-
ers, but our society needs what
affirmative action is trying to
accomplish. In fact, I chal-
lenge any reader - professors,
students, staff, or GSIs - to
come up with a plausible,
water-tight and just alternative
to affirmative action. If you
don't like the idea of it, fine.
Just be a part of the solution.
Paul Bhasin is a School of
Music junior

mundane and
the important
W hen was the last time someone
asked you to write an essay
about your summer vacation?
In third or fourth grade, everybody
had to write them - first-day back
assignments. The
fans whirred, and
while Miss Dum-
dee-dum, Mrs. La-
di-da or Mr. So- K
and-so droned on
about all things 4,
academic, you
stared out the win-
dow and wished for
just one more pop-
sicle and one more ERIN
day of freedom. MARSH
There were lots of THINKIN
white sneakers and OF .
brown arms.
Back then, you stood up in front of a
class that was one big squirming mon-
ster and read aloud: "on my summer
vacation I took swimming lessons and
piano lessons 'cuz my mom made me
and I went to visit ray aunt in New
York. We drove there in our station
wagon. It was hot and my sister was a
brat." Everyone had stories to tell
about camp, vacations, new toys, and
sometimes a new brother or sister. Big
events - it was all about big events.
Lots of times the swimming lesson or
the trip to visit Random Relative did
not occupy the bulk of your summer
hours, but it was the most easily
retrievable memory.
So what did we actually do in
between all of those major happen-
ings? We probably ran through some
sprinklers and made some trips to the
ice cream man and did some whining
about being hot and bored. We did all
kinds of fun things that never made the
essay cut because they didn't seem
special enough. We could go to, the
lake or take bike rides anytime we
wanted - what's the big deal? Why
bother remembering those times?
The same phenomenon appears in
high school yearbooks. Flip through-
the pages of yours. What do yougsee?
Staged photos of proms and home-
coming dances that show a pyramid of
your classmates wearing big, toothy
grins. Lots of senior portraits of your
friends looking airbrushed and perfect.
The pictorial chronology skims the
surface of all things happy and won-
derful, leaving you to wonder what
became of everything that happened in
between proms and football games.
Didn't that count, too?
Like high school yearbooks, our what-
I-did-on-my-summer-vacation essays
didn't reflect the events that really tran-
spired. I wonder if our recollections now
would include all of the things we
excluded as kids. I think mine would.
Think about all of the good, ordinary
things you did this summer. I sat in a car
with a terrific friend on a hot day and ate
a big cherry Slurpee with one of those
spoon-straws while an old Bruce
Springsteen song played on the radio.
Try it - remember the things that would
escape the surface summary, but that
gave you the best moments. Like playing
whiffle ball, or falling asleep during a
thunderstorm, or sharing a great kiss.
The first-day-back essay is one of
those rites of passage to mark the begin
ning and the end of the cycles that mat-
ter in our lives, at this point. Some ofthe
excitement tinged with dread we felt'
back then is the same we feel now As all
the TV and newspaper ads remind us,
back-to-school time means new stuffi
New notebooks and teachers and
friends. You may not have a Smurfy new

lunchbox this year, but you might have a
new roommate, or a new apartment or
dorm room. Shopping for a new Trapper
Keeper and sneakers has been replaced
by shopping for new towels, or a mini
refrigerator, or a futon. Even if it's not
your first year at college, the college-
student-housewares-shopping ritual is
evidence that we all seem to gravitate to
new things to start off a new year.
Parents see us off to school with the
same old mixture of pride and wistful-
ness (though by this point they might be
a little more eager to send us along),
and at some time we realize - maybe
suddenly, maybe gradually - that we
are less and less anxious about leaving
home and more and more excited about
getting out on our own.
Maybe this is your first first week of'
college. Maybe it's your last first week
of college. They're both pretty impor-
tant. It's all moving up, moving out,
moving on. Regardless, we are faced
with a wonderful phenomenon: a new
school year! This year, some of us will
just begin to discover the University, and
some of us will try to hold on to the days
that move by much too fast. The little
things that were glossed over or forgot-
ten in our elementary school accounts of
life will become much more important.
i itr +h ___mar v.n; .tha

Eduaonal exchange
'America Reads' adds dimension to workstudy

M ore than 700 universities across the
country have instituted a new work-
study program called the "America Reads
Challenge." America Reads is a national
program designed to sponsor workstudy
college students tutoring elementary school
children. The University is embracing this
effort and will soon begin to organize with
many schools in the Ann Arbor area to offer
young students the opportunity to get a
head start in reading.
Program organizers hope to incorporate
half of the University's workstudy students.
Introducing the America Reads program to
the workstudy system has the potential to
benefit both primary school students and
their college student instructors.
Participating students will receive academ-
ic instruction to complement regular class
time. The service is a relief to many
schools, in which classes are large and indi-
vidualized tutoring is a rare occurrence. On
the other end, workstudy college students
stand to gain valuable teaching experience
by working directly with students in the
classroom. In this case, education begets
education in an arrangement that benefits
all concerned.
The costs of housing, tuition and books
for students at the University forces many
to enlist in financial aid programs. Unlike
student loans, which can lead to long-term
debt and bad credit ratings, workstudy pro-
vides a valuable opportunity for students to
work against their expenses while working

always welcome - the more workstudy
opportunities students get, the more they
can avoid costly unsubsidized loans.
By sponsoring the America Reads pro-
gram, the University also continues to
strengthen its admirable reputation for
community service. Most workstudy stu-
dents spend their work hours on campus
performing clerical or other occasionally
mundane tasks. The program will move stu-
dents into the community, encouraging stu-
dents to take an interest in the city and
encounter community members who fall
outside the age group most common on
Forging educational bonds with children
may serve a larger and more important
goal: planting seeds to inspire future col-
lege education. University students partici-
pating in America Reads have a golden
opportunity to touch young minds and
encourage them to continue their academic
pursuits into young adulthood. In a way, the
student tutors will become ambassadors of
the University.
Paramount to the America Reads program
is literacy. As many scholars can attest, it is
not unusual for high school students to grad-
uate without knowing how to read. Reading
functions as the fundamental component of
education. Without its mastery there is little
opportunity for academic achievement.
America Reads is intended to combat these
pressing problems. The University's support
of the program demonstrates a dedication to


humor is not
Normally, James Miller's
columns provoke a strong
sense of nausea and dyspep-
sia in my system when I read
them. However, as a student
who lives out of state myself,
I found his New York-bash-
ing column (Welcome to the
'U': An open letter to New
York students," 9/3/97) enjoy-
able and rather funny at
times. It was obviously all in
good fun, and employed what
most would deem satire.
However, what is more
amusing are the aggrieved
responses of New Yorkers
who have had their pride
wounded. It is simply ridicu-
lous for such letter writers to
compare a bit of regionalism
to such problems as ethnic
discrimination. Being from
Cleveland, a city made fun of
much more often than New
York, I can reasonably argue
that regionalism expressed in
this fashion does no harm to
anyone. I haven't been
deprived, discriminated
against, or emotionally

likelihood, very few people,
from New York or not, really
were that torn up by Miller's
column, and for those of you
who were, for God's sake,
grow a thicker skin, or this
campus will eat you alive.
'U' needs a
voting student
I would like to comment
on the article by Jack
Schillaci ("Student regent
should be installed," 9/3/97)
regarding a student on the
Board of Regents.
Even though I graduated
last year, I still feel that hav-
ing a full-voting member on
the Board of Regents is
important. I would like to
commend Schillaci on his
presentation of the issue.
The article was inaccurate in
a few areas, though.
Although it is true that we
lobbied Sen. Schwarz (not
state Rep. Schwarz) last year,
we never had his promise to

Appropriations Sub-
Committee on Education, but
we did not give up when he
decided against supporting
the bill. We always had the
support of Speaker of the
House Curtis Hertel, and we
focused mainly on the State
House, where we felt (and
still feel) that the bill can be
introduced and passed.
I agree that we should
focus on a full vote instead of
an ex-officio vote. We
explored the option of ex-
officio, but in the end decid-
ed that we should pursue a
full vote. Since that time,
Andrew Wright and Trent
Thomson (representing the
Michigan Student Assembly)
have spearheaded a drive to
unite the University with
Michigan State University,
Wayne State University, U of
M - Dearborn and U of M -
Flint. They have made great
strides and are closer than
ever to getting this idea into
the State legislature. The
Daily, as well as all students,
should give their support to
Andrew and Trent to make
this student priority a reality.
They can be reached at 763-


I * ..a: . .iI ..L ....

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