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September 03, 1997 - Image 29

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-03

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COMMENTARY

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 3, 1997 - 38

ROM THE
ITOR
The University has the distinction
of being all things to all people

AN ISSUE OF LIBERTY AND RESPECT

By Jeff Eldridge
friend of mine frequently
makes the following obser-
vation.
"The thing that's so hard about
Michigan," she says, "is that every-
body here does everything. If you go
to some schools, all everybody does
is party. If you go to other schools,
people study all the time. But here,
everybody works hard, but plays hard
too. That's what makes it so tough."
It makes life at the University
tough sometimes, yet is part of its
unruly greatness. It is part of what lets
the University often attain the impos-
sible, and be all things to all people.
What you're interested in doesn't
matter much - English literature,
ncollege football, economics, beer,,
eyebrow piercing, chemical engi-
neering. It doesn't matter if your
ambitions include the U.S. presiden-
cy, or if you would be content as a
lifelong couch potato. In four years
here, the chances are pretty good
your interests will be met.
Glance through a short list of
high-profile University alumni -
names like Madonna, Arthur Miller,
President Ford, the Unabomber sus-
pect and Dick Gephardt, as well as
an array of legal giants and business
leaders. It's a mystifying collection
of people. Sure, Harvard can brag
about Theodore and Franklin
Roosevelt, Tommy Lee Jones and
Walter Lippman. That's a more for-
midable crowd than Ann Arbor can
boast.
Who cares? You've got to love a
place that has "The Crucible,""Like
q Virgin, the post-Nixon White
House and the House Democrats on
its side. Let Yale boast Bush and
Clinton, let USC boast O.J. Simpson
- Michigan can rightfully claim to
have everything a university needs.
There will be a day, probably
soon, when you realize this. Any
given day contains a small adven-
ture and around every corner there
lies something surprising.
For me, it frequently comes in a
lecture hall, where the best profes-
sors dazzle hundreds on a daily
basis. With 18 classes under my
belt, I can only name one bad pro-
fessor. Plenty of people talk about
learning more outside the class-
room than in it; I suppose that
may be true, but it's a terribly dis-
torted observation. Some of the
best stuff here is rooted in the lec-
ture halls and the minds of the
people that occupy them.
But you'll probably disagree.
Maybe you'll embrace the full scope
of the place sitting in Michigan
Stadium one clear Saturday afternoon,
surrounded by 104,000 of your best

Daily NSE Editor
friends and getting pelted by marsh-
mallows. Or maybe it will be late on a
Friday night, wandering the streets of
Ann Arbor with a few friends, tipsy
and giddy, but happy glad to be here.
Maybe it will come sitting in the
Michigan Theater, perusing Monet in
the Museum of Art or eating some-
thing deep-fried at The Brown Jug.
Buckle up, and embrace the
bizarre. One of the strangest moments
I recall was being at a party in the
wee hours of the morning, when a
former sitcom actor materialized.
(This is not a lie.) After being spied
smoking marijuana while sitting on a
laundry machine in the basement, he
was ultimately taunted out of the
house, and sprinted into the darkness
when a video camera popped up from
the crowd and drunk, chanting kids
called his character's name out
through the night. From the sublime
to the crass, learn to love it. This place
can be better than Disneyland.
This is a place where smiling kids
run naked through the streets on the
last day of classes. It's a place where
socialists and Christian fundamen-
talists both will accost you in Angell
Hall's Fish Bowl. It's a university for
sorority girls and hippies, rabid
sports fans and articulate intellectu-
als, where hari krishnas and frisbee
tossers call the Diag home.
Don't let yourself get overwhelmed
by all these options and so much free-
dom. It can be tough maintaining
self-discipline, especially if coming
here from the suburbs, or a small
town. It can be tough, arriving from a
personalized corner of the world -
but in two or three weeks, 5,000 new
students will find themselves deliv-
ered to a collage of people, a barrage
of activity. They'll be the masters of
their own destinies, to choose to dye
their hair green or to study electrons.
Hell, who knows? Maybe there's
a future material girl hanging out
somewhere in the bowels of East
Quad. The argumentative kid in
your political science section may
be a future congressman. The guy in
a room down the hall with the pun-
gent smoke seeping under the door
may write a bestseller in 15 years.
They could all be here. And in
their next four years, they'll probably
find what they're looking for. The
pictures in the brochures and
accounts from your older friends are
all here, too. But so are a million
more stories and experiences, wait-
ing for you to jump into the fray.
-Jeff Eldridge is an LSA junior the
New Student Edition editor and
a Daily news editor. He can be
reached over e-mail at
jeldridg@umich.edu.

Drinking,
pot laws
should be
relaxed
By Kristin Arola
Daily Editorial Page Writer
You're 18 years old - legally an
adult. You can choose to vote. You can
choose to get married. You can choose
to buy pornography. You can choose
to buy and smoke cigarettes. You can
choose to move out of your parents'
house. You're an adult in the govern-
ment's eyes, an adult who is responsi-
ble enough to make choices for your-
self. Well ... almost responsible
enough.
Being a devout Libertarian, I strong-
ly believe when you become an adult,
you should have the choice to do what
you desire, as long as it's not hurting
anyone else. If you're stupid enough to
ruin your lungs by smoking cigarettes,
by all means go ahead. If you want to
grow a few pot plants in your basement,
it's not hurting me. And considering
you are an adult, you should certainly
be allowed to drink alcohol.
As adults, why can't we choose to do
with, and put into our bodies, what we
want? The government likes to make us
think they believe we're responsible cit-
izens - responsible enough to fight for
our country if a draft ever arises - yet
they continue to waste billions of dol-
lars on the drug war and deny legal
adults access to alcohol.
The National Minimum Drinking
Age Act of 1986 forces states to have
a minimum drinking age of 21. What
does this law accomplish? As a 20-
year-old, three-year veteran of the
University, I have never had a prob-
lem finding alcohol. The only down-
side to the drinking age is not being

law!"
Being an adult, it is ridiculous that
I can't order a glass of wine with din-
ner, or go to the bar for a few drinks
with friends. With all of the other
choices given to me when I turn 18,
what I decide to put into my body
should be nobody's business but
mine.
On that note, I should also be legal-
ly allowed to partake in the smoking
of marijuana. In 1988 the DEA's own
chief administrative law judge,
Francis Young, ruled "marijuana, in
its natural form, is one of the safest
therapeutically active substance s
known to man." Yet the government
continues to ignore studies, classify-
ing marijuana in the same categories
as crack and heroin.
Granted, sitting around all day
smoking pot isn't necessarily a wise
thing to do; yet who is the govern-
ment to tell me what I can and cannot
put into my adult body? If I want-to
spend all day in a stoner coma on the
couch, flipping channels and eating
peanut butter, why does the govern-
ment care?
Prohibition didn't work in the past,
and it's obvious to me and everyone I
know (including my grandparents)
that it isn't working again. Last year
more than 589,000 Americans were
arrested on marijuana charges; 86
percent of those were for simple UPs-
session.
Even scarier is that another mari-
juana smoker is arrested every 54 $Cc-
onds. We're spending billions otf-x
dollars per year on a war that WiII
never be won.
Once we turn 18, we are adults. We
should have the choice to do with our
bodies what we so desire. A ?1-year-old
drinking age and a marijuana prohibi-
tion trample the civil rights of all
Americans. In the words of Mark
Twain, "Now what I contend is that my
body is my own, at least I have always
so regarded it. If I do harm through my
experimenting with it, it is I who suf-
fers, not the state.'
We are all adults here. Let's be treat-
ed like it.

JEANNIE SERVAAS/Daily
Although 18-year-olds are old enough to vote, drive and potentially be drafted, they

are not legally allowed to drink alcohol.
allowed into bars. Then again, spend-
ing a Friday night in a jam-packed
meat-market is not necessarily my
idea of a good time. Walk around the
streets on a weekend night and you
are bound to find a house party with
plenty of beer to go around.
I have never had a problem accessing
alcohol. Since I've been a teenager, I
can make a few phone calls, or simply

walk to the store, and within minutes
find somebody to buy for me. The
drinking age does not keep teens from
drinking, it just makes drinking seem
even more rebellious. To this day, if I
can get served at a bar I feel like I've
accomplished something, that I'm
doing something wrong. My mind
immediately moves into a juvenile
chant: "breaking the law, breaking the

Student code flawed from inception

® Wanting to fill in for parents,
the Code of Student Conduct
jeopardizes students' rights
By Jack Schillaci
Daily Editorial Page Writer
First-year students are ready. They have packed
their belongings and are moving away from their par-
ents for the first time. They will cram everything they
own into a tiny little space called a residence hall and
begin to experience the life of an adult.
But wait, they are not adults - at least not in the
eyes of the University. The University wants to be
every student's new mother and father, because
administrators think students really do not know how
to handle their own lives.
Students can vote, smoke cigarettes, drink too
much, dance the night away, zone out on caffeine or
make a late-night run to The Brown Jug. But the
University wants to make sure student life is sheltered,
so they came up with the Code of Student Conduct to

maintain the University's "scholarly community."
The premise behind this pretentious tripe is an out-
dated administrative doctrine called in loco parentis
- or literally, in lieu of parents. Excuse me, but isn't
getting away from one's parents one of the main
advantages of going away to college?
Many students will never be affected by the Code.
But those who are - whether accusing someone or
defending themselves - often come to view it as
more of a hindrance than a help.
The Code is full of botched legalistic language
that is all but un-enforcable by the University
because, try as it may, the University is not a gov-
ernment. And the Code is not a penal statute - real
statutes are long, complex documents that have
taken decades to mold, unlike the Code's simplistic
sentences.
The Code's arbitration procedure may try to
mimic a court but it takes significant liberties from
the foundations of the judicial system. For instance,
a student found innocent in a criminal court was
found guilty under the Code. Hmm ... sounds a lit-

tle bit like "double jeopardy." And since Code
records are closed, no sort of precedent can be
established. So every hearing starts from scratch
giving Resolution Coordinators too much leeway to
decide how individual cases go.
The Code is also supposed to be a learning expe-
rience. What could be more educational than get-
ting kicked out of school? And to "maximize the
educational potential of the process, both parties
must agree to the admission of any other people to
the arbitration," according to the Code. The logic
gets a little thin in these parts: How does excluding
outsiders make an arbitration any more education-
al?
Thanks to the insistence of Regent Andrea Fischer
Newman (R-Ann Arbor) the Code will come up for
review at the April 1998 regents' meeting. Vice
President for Student Affairs Maureen Hartford will
defend the Code's worth. But the Code has long since
proved worthless to students - it is time for adminis-
trators to acknowledge that and throw it out like tbe
trash that it is.

.LSA should loosen
course requirements

By Scott Hunter
Daily Editorial Page Writer
Earning a Michigan diploma may
prove more difficult than it seems.
Maintaining a 2.0 GPA through 120
*Credits of academic terrain is the easy
,part. In an effort to ensure that the
University manufactures competent,
well-rounded graduates, LSA has
. placed hurdles on the terrain: degree
requirements.
.Consequently, obtaining that get-
out-of-jail-free card at commence-
ment demands careful planning, strat-
_ egy and, most of all, tolerance. Five
primary requirements affect the
*majority of undergraduate students:
English composition, race and ethnic-
ity, quantitative reasoning, second-
anguage proficiency, and area distri-
bution. Generally, the requisites con-
tribute positively to a practical and
well-balanced educational program;
however, they often limit students'
curriculum choices unnecessarily.
Through the English composition
Mrquirement, the University seeks to
ensure that all graduates can effectively
express themselves in writing. This
requirement has two components: intro-
ductory composition, taken during
freshman or sophomore years, and the
Junior/senior writing requirement.
While students may forgo the introduc-
. tory component if their entrance portfo-

LSA offers no opportunity to forego the
junior/senior component.
Consequently, highly skilled and profi-
cient students must expend time, effort
and, above all, money to develop a skill
they have already polished. To better
accommodate these students, LSA
should develop a plan to gauge the writ-
ing skills of its upperclassmen and, if
appropriate, allow them to forgo the
junior/senior requirement.
Also reinforcing the liberal-arts com-
ponent of education is the second-lan-
guage requirement. LSA demands
fourth-term proficiency in a language
other than English for all its bachelor's
degree recipients. Mastery of a second
language proves crucial in that it
improves one's understanding of the
structure of English, and because the
workplace has evolved so that most
graduates will work in environments
with international connections - not to
mention that most employers routinely
torch the resumes of applicants who
lack second-language proficiency. This
requirement is, therefore, indispens-
able. Important also is the fact that most
language classes are imbued with social
and cultural lessons about their corre-
sponding countries.
Established in 1991, the race and eth-
nicity requirement exemplifies the
University's commitment to promoting
an awareness of social relations. The

EDITOR's NOTE
The Commentary section of the New Student Edition is intended as a
forum for staff members of The Michigan Daily to discuss and debate
some of the issues, events and ideas pertinent to life at the University.
Individual articles are written by members of the Daily Opinion Staff.
Columns are written by Daily reporters and editors, and are intended to
serve as a vehicle to share some of their experiences and observations.
These columns do not reflect the authors' opinions on news-related topics
covered as editors and reporters.
Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily represent the
beliefs of The Michigan Daily, the opinion page or the editorial staff as a
whole.
- Jeff Eldridge
New Student Edition editor
Northside Community Church
929 Barton Drive
-f between Plymouth Road and Pontiac Trail
five minutes from North Campus
Terence McGinn 9:45 a.m. - Sunday School for all ages
Pastor 11:00 a.m. - Worship, child care provided
A warm informal setting for worship and spiritual growth
for transportation call 662-6351

MARGARET MYERS/Daily
Anthropology Prof. Andres Frisancho teaches a lecture course on biological
anthropology. 'Blo anthro' Is a popular choice for fulfilling natural science credits.

meant to explore race, ethnicity, racism
and how these factors manifest them-
selves. This requirement should be
adopted by all educational institutions
for it directly addresses the practical,
real-world aspect of education.
Also practical is the quantitative-rea-
soning requirement, which seeks to
ensure that all graduates are adept at the
using the analyzing quantitative infor-
mation for practical purposes - not for
pure computation. Quantitative reason-
ing plays an important role in many
careers, yet it is a skill that many stu-
dents have developed. In this instance,

option of meeting the requirement
through a University-approved assess-
ment test.
In an attempt to produce well-round-
ed graduates, LSA also institutes an
area-distribution requirement that
demands that students take classes from
a variety of disciplines. While the
underlying idea holds merit, the distrib-
ution plan often forces students to take
classes unnecessarily.
So, while requirements prove neces-
sary in that they help yield a well-bal-
anced education, LSA should revise
them to avoid placing students into

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