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September 12, 1997 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-12

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 12, 1997

tIe 4I irIigun Dui1j

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by a:
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
What's the rush?
First-year students should explore options

'No one can predict what Bollinger will face
during his term as president. There is the
excitement of the course and new direction.'
- Paul Boylan, dean of the School of Music and member of the committee
planning President Lee Bollingers Sept. 19 inauguration ceremony
( s

T oday is the eighth day of the 1997 Fall
semester, and while it may have been
the longest eight days any first-year student
ever experienced, it represents only a small
-portion of the college experience that lies
ahead. Most incoming students have not yet
adjusted to class schedules, new roommates
or the broad offerings of college life. Many
still seek their own group, a personal niche
Mn an imposing and sometimes cold institu-
Enter the Greek system, with promises
:-,of social involvement and friendship - an
appealing proposition to students who have
j:: ust had their first real taste of life beyond
-the confines of parental supervision.
= However, these familial organizations are
-not without their own bounds, not the least
cif which is the significant time commit-
-ment they demand from participants.
Sorority rush, which begins today, and
fraternity rush, which starts on Monday, are
long processes involving numerous consec-
utive days of constant activity. While
women who rush face much more strenu-
ous and consuming proceedings than their
male counterparts, all students who rush
k nay find time for studying and preparing
for their first tests and papers greatly taxed.
Zt:,Students who receive a bid for a Greek
l ouse will see an even greater time com-
First-year students should take a good
look around and to try to view the wealth
Y and diversity of opportunities a campus of
this size has to offer. New students should
go to a few mass meetings, especially if
they missed last week's Festifall. Several
a universities prohibit first-year students
from rushing to allow students to absorb a

more complete picture of university life
before they decide to rush and subsequent-
ly pledge in the Greek system.
There is nothing wrong with rushing a
fraternity or sorority, and it is a significant-
ly different and less-binding decision than
pledging an individual house. The Greek
community makes a significant contribu-
tion to University life, especially in terms of
their commitment to public-service pro-
jects. In many ways, the University would
not be the same without its presence.
However, the Greek system is only one of
many brush strokes in the grand landscape
and history of the University, and anyone
considering participation in rush should be
aware of that fact.
It should also be understood that rush is
not the only way to get a clear view of
Greek organizations. Students can seek out
present fraternity and sorority members for
advice and information about the Greek
system. Furthermore, the Greek system will
be still be around four or five months from
now and winter rush will be in full swing. In
that time, students will be able to make a
more careful, informed decision. In fact, by
waiting, students may find that their plan to
rush has been reinforced when it is not
acted out on an uninformed whim.
Joining a Greek house is a personal deci-
sion that will affect a students' social and
academic life. While it can offer first-year
students an instant group of friends, it can
also prevent them from exploring other
activities and opportunities on campus.
Rush is not something students should
hurry into - it is a decision with lasting
impact across a college career, and poten-
tially a lifetime.
I11111k i 1 A~

Miller should
not apologize
for column
I am writing in response
to James Miller's article con-
cerning out-of-state/New
York students ("Welcome to
the 'U': An open letter to
New York students," 9/3/97).
After spending the last four
years at the University and
being an Ann Arbor native
myself, I was pleased to find
a column telling it like it is
around here. I can't recall the
number of times students
from New York (and sur-
rounding areas) would com-
plain about Ann Arbor in one
way or another.
It may have been a harsh
welcome, but students from
the East Coast need to know
that they're in the Midwest
now, where a big-city attitude
is not welcome (unless you're
in Markley). It's true that not
everyone from the East Coast
is like this, but it is what

most of us have experienced.
Miller should not have to
apologize for his opinion, at
least he has one. But that's
another story.
Letter was
I fear that my letter to the
Daily in response to James
Miller's column ("Negative
stereotypes won't help 'U,'
9/5/97) has been misinter-
preted by some readers, in
particular by David Crandall
and Lawson Sutherland as
reflected in their letter on
9/10/97 ("Miller is not preju-
diced"). First, my letter was
not intended to defend myself
against prejudice (I am not
from New York) nor to
defend New Yorkers. I do not
feel that New Yorkers have a
particular need to be protect-

ed from prejudice, nor do
they need a special minority
I do not generally have a
problem with columns that
poke fun at various campus
subgroups and I often see the
humor in them even when
many Daily readers take
them too seriously. What I
object to is the tone of
Miller's column. If Miller's
diatribe was meant to be
humorous, then I feel that he
failed miserably, for I did not
detect any hints of satire in
his piece. My impression was
that Miller simply wanted to
air a grudge against a general
group of people on campus.
If this is the case then I
strongly suggest that Miller
be removed from the Daily
staff because I do not consid-
er such work to be of any
value. If satire was Miller's
intention, then I suggest that
Miller improve his writing

Mama, don'tle
babies grvw up
to be cowboys
O! ur national culture thrives on
being the good guy.
So what do we need above all else?
Simple: Someone to hate.
It is entirely impossible for
Americans to be the Lone Ran
astride a white horse, six-shooter
gleaming in the
victorious sunlight
without a villain
to vanquish. We
need a threatening t
iconoclast image \
on par with our
own notions of
patriotism - we
can't have any lit-
tle guy being our
enemy, they gotta PAUL
be a big one. And SERILLA
of course our gRILLA
opposition knows WARFARE
nothing of free-
dom, justice, truth or the success of the
common man (it's our dream you
know, we came up with that one). Hell,
how do you think they became our
enemy in the first place?
From those king-loving Brits in
1776 through every commie in the
pack (yeah, we still gottour eye on you,
Fidel), we took on all the big boys on
the block and beat them all. The
Soviets were a particularly tough
cookie to crack, but even if it took
internal economic crisis and failed
military coups to bring them down, we
won the Cold War. USA! USA!
The only problem with winning (or
strategically evacuating a southe
Asian police action) is that it leaves
nobody to make us look good, with no
competing propaganda, who can we
possibly teach that we are right?
Vietnam taught us to look for a situa-
tion with a bit more dichotomy; that's
been our major problem for the last
couple of years, no clear-cut villains.
Many Americans are quite nostalgic
for the great communist threat U
went out basically with a whie
instead of a bang. I guess that's why
there has been so much introspection
on what happened on the U.S. side of
the Cold War - with no constant
threat, we only have ourselves to look
at. Having some major opposition
really helped take the focus and the
blame off ourselves.
Not any more.
The Secretary of Defense under
Kennedy and Johnson, Rot
McNamara, recently held a conferene
in Hanoi, with former U.S. and
Vietnamese generals and advisors; his
goal was to figure out where both
sides could have saved lives, wpere
they went wrong. I'm not sure that:Mr.
McNamara's efforts did much to oon-
sole the families of the 58l0
Americans or 3.6 million Vietnadese
who lost their lives in that conflict I
doubt it even helped the former s
tary's guilty conscience. But in a way,
it is a small step.
I don't really commend him, but
McNamara has done something few
men of power have ever done in this
country. He said we were wrong.
Recently McNamara told The New
York Times, "we believed our interests
were being attacked all over the world
by a highly organized, unified
Communist movement, led
Moscow and Beijing, of which
believed - I think incorrectly - that
the Hanoi Government of Ho Chi
Minh was a pawn."

It must be significant that it took-one
of the architects of the Vietnam War
more than 20 years to figure out what
most of us have known that whole time.
It must be more significant that he is
one of the few living leaders of that war
to have made the conclusion at all.'
Criticism is something America
don't deal with well on foreign policy;
it must come from all those years
keeping a brave face pointed towards
Moscow. I am sure it's why
McNamara's conference didn't make
too many headlines.
While the press, politicians and his-
torians try to figure out if Americans
can handle the unsavory details (or
documented facts, depending on your
perspective) of our "diplomatic his*
ry," our culture, fueled by our enter-
tainment industry, has made the next
logical step.
We have seen the enemy, and it's us.
"Men In Black" and "Conspiracy
Theory" were both No. I movies this
summer and on TV, "The X-Files" is a
prime-time powerhouse; even the sci-
fi blockbuster "Contact" was partially
fueled by corrupt politicians who w
very Earthbound. All of these produu-
tions share themes of the government
pulling the wool over the eyes of the
American people. The "evil within"
scenario is the only marketable threat
Lots of political science theorists
would dredge up the distrust fueled by

aI U r INS iMuS
ASL courses offer unique opportunities

Diversity aids University education

Students across campus were disappoint-
ed earlier this week when the
University announced that it would not
form classes in American Sign Language
this semester. As interest in ASL becomes
what Gary Olsen, former Executive
Director of the National Association of the
Deaf, called, "an American ground swell,"
many colleges across the country are begin-
ning to offer ASL classes to satisfy foreign
language and graduation requirements -
among them, Michigan State University,
Madonna College and the University of
California's campuses. Numerous Ivy
League schools are also considering the
addition of ASL classes to the curriculum.
University administrators, however, contin-
ue to drag their feet on the matter. It is time
for the University to offer a new gateway
into deaf persons' culture and language -
they should establish ASL classes and allow
them to fulfill the LSA foreign-language
Deaf and hearing-impaired people who
utilize ASL have experienced American
culture in a different manner than the rest of
the population. While more traditional for-
eign languages involve students learning
aspects of the respective cultures, ASL
could offer students a unique insight into
their own culture.
ASL is neither a simplified form nor a
derivation of English. It is a thoroughly
evolved human language with its own dis-
tinct mannerisms. Dr. Wilcox, a professor
of linguistics at the University of New
Mexico, once wrote, "There is an abundant
linguistic research on ASL demonstrating
that ... ASL is radically different from
English - surely as different as any of the
more traitional foreign lannanae" ASLE

oral-based languages with which most stu-
dents are more comfortable, but the
University should not assume that it lacks
something that only conventional spoken
languages can offer.
It is true that ASL is not universal -
hence, whether or not ASL is "foreign"
becomes rather cloudy. The University
offers courses in relatively obscure lan-
guages such as Ojibwa and Sanskrit to ful-
fill LSA requirements but refuses to extend
that policy to ASL, the third-most-used lan-
guage in the country. University adminis-
trators should not bind themselves merely
on a technical definition, but examine
whether ASL can accomplish educational
objectives. ASL courses will open students
up to study a new language. Similar to other
languages, ASL also opens up channels into
the lives, thoughts and customs of not only
a different group of people but a new per-
spective of their own language and culture.
Moreover, many more students who took
ASL as a second language found them-
selves as well equipped and more employ-
able in the "hearing" world as that of any
other foreign languages. The University
should change language requirements to
allow students to enrich their educational
State laws in Michigan already recog-
nize ASL as a foreign language for high
school graduation requirements. ASL
brings to students the same challenges and
rewards as any traditional foreign language;
it uncovers fresh perspectives of themselves
in developing a new understanding for
another language and culture. It is time for
the University to follow the legislature's
example and convey its own support in
teaching A S Land acenting it e a aennd

Lost among the cries of
equality and reverse discrim-
ination is the real mission of
the University, one of the
most important reasons that
affirmative action exists.
This is the idea that the
University is for deliberation,
intellectual discussion and an
environment where chal-
lenges to the problems of
society are undertaken.
In order to engage in
proper intellectual investiga-
tion and in order to have a
dialogue on these issues
without the taint of exclu-
sion, the University must
bring in a racially diverse
campus. Not only does it
seek racial diversity, but it
seeks intellectual diversity.
The University system of
admissions takes into
account other factors beyond
race, such as leadership abil-
ity, geographical location,
and degree of difficulty of
high school curriculum, to
name a few. The University
accepts students based on
artistic abilities, musical vir-
tuosity, or if they wrote a
good essay on their applica-
tion. The University does this
because it knows that true
discussion cannot exist with-
out participation from all
types of people. Should we
exclude these factors as well
and go on what some call the
equal merit of GPAs and
The University also rec-
ognizes that true merit is not
just test scores and GPAs.
One can not measure a per-
son's heart or their true mind
by a number, these are only

factors of possibility. One
cannot measure the oppres-
sion felt by a racial minority
in a world of white privilege.
I've met many a valedic-
torian or SAT genius whose
idea of intellectual discourse
was Super Nintendo 64 and
sleeping through classes.
Think about what high
school would become if we
rely only on these "objective
factors": Nothing but a mind-
numbing race for grades and
afternoons of Kaplan test
prep. No more school plays,
no more football Fridays.
Surely once affirmative
action goes, we will concen-
trate our efforts not on
minorities, but on all artists.
After all, not everyone has
artistic ability and it's unfair
that this ability would be
considered over my high
ACT score.
I'm not saying race is like
artistic ability, but African
Americans, Hispanics,
Indian Americans and even
Caucasians have experiences
and ways of looking at life
different from each other.
These experiences need to be
incorporated into intellectual
discourse. It is important.
The fact that this discussion
is taking place is actually a
direct product of affirmative
The fact that minority
groups have been able to
transcend the difficulties of
patriarchal, racial and preju-
dicial enslavement, with or
without the help of affirma-
tive action, to succeed at such
high academic levels certain-
ly has spurred this debate. It
has been a factor in further-

ing this particular intellectual
discussion. The fact that
many of these groups who
now have an equal voice in
this discussion, and could not
previously reach the debating
podium in the past is testa-
ment to the importance of
affirmative action.
No one, not even the most
ardent supporter, will argue
that it is the cure or the be all
end all, but it does work in
great capacity, even if there
are side effects. We must
keep re-evaluating and look
to new methods like expan-
sion of Head Start programs
and a restructuring of ele-
mentary and secondary
school curriculums, but we
must work at both ends.
We cannot pull out the
rug just because the system is
not perfect. We do not pro-
hibit AIDS patients from
using AZT or protease
inhibitors until we find an
ultimate cure. Just because
these preventative medicines
might make them sick or
vomit or even worse, they are
still able to use them to stave
off an even worse fate of
death. We have a disease in
this country called racism,
which is bigger than any can-
cer or Ebola epidemic. If we
end affirmative action now
and sit around looking for a
new cure, we will surely
endure a death of the ideals
of true intellectual delibera-
tion and possible harmony
among all.
Michael Nagrant is an
LSA senior and
president of the Michigan
Student Assembly.


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