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October 02, 1997 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-02

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 2, 1997

UtIe £idligattn &lg

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editor in Chief

Edited and managed by E
students at the Editorial Page Editor
:University of Michigan
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.

Policy protects stu
ast night, Jews across the globe began
F" elebrating Rosh Hashanah, the
Jefish New Year, which continues through
toiorrow. Next Friday marks the begin-
ning of the feast of Yom Kippur, the Day of
Atonement - the most important Jewish
holy day. Thanks to the University's policy
on religious-academic conflicts, Jewish
students who wish to observe the holidays
need not worry that they will have to sacri-
fice their academic goals. Similarly, stu-
dents of all faiths should know that their
religious practices and observances are
protected by the policy of religious-acade-
mic conflicts. As students prepare for
midterms and face increasingly heavy
workloads as the semester progresses, fac-
lty must adhere to the terms outlined in
the policy to allow students the freedom to
practice their faiths without fear of acade-
mic punishment.
In an e-mail message sent to all students
this week, the Office of the Registrar
explained the University's standing on reli-
gious-academic conflicts. The policy,
adopted in July 1996, states that if students
provide reasonable notice for their absence,
they may arrange for alternative opportuni-
ties to complete coursework missed due to
religious observances. The policy also
states that if they encounter any difficulty,
students can appeal to the department chair;
if this, fails to solve the problem they should
take' their case to either the dean of the
school or the University Ombuds.
This policy is extremely helpful to many
University students for several reasons.
First, it allows students to practice their
religion without worrying that it will
adversely affect their academic career. The
ljicy acknowledges the importance of
religipn in people's lives, and it lets stu-
N 'Y
Going fom

me timn
dents' observances
dents of all faiths avoid having to choose
between their beliefs and their studies.
Second, having an official policy on reli-
gious-academic conflicts gives students a
plan to fall back on if professors are
unwilling to compromise, as well as a pro-
cedure to file complaints. And third, an
official policy creates a need for faculty to
address the conflict and arrange for alter-
natives; traditionally, some faculty ignored
the importance of religious holidays by
scheduling quizzes or tests with no alterna-
tive make-up dates, forcing students to
forgo religion for academics.
Though the University's policy fills a
need, it also consistently creates the con-
flicts in the first place. Last year, the win-
ter term final exam period coincided with
the beginning of Passover, a time when
most observing students want go home to
celebrate with their families. This is just
one example of several instances in which
major religious holidays came into conflict
with University scheduling. Even with the
existence of the religious-academic con-
flicts policy, the situation is not always
easy for students. The University should
take care in the future to avoid major con-
Above all, it is important that students
and the faculty are aware of the religious-
academic conflicts policy. Students
received information over e-mail last week,
but because not all students use, e-mail, it
would have been helpful to pursue other
methods. The University especially needs to
remind the faculty. To ensure that the policy
is truly effective, both students and faculty
need to be aware of how it works, so that
students may pursue both spiritual and aca-
demic goals without feeling pressured
because the two conflict.

'I just don't understand ... I was very stunned.
I was shocked. It just seems such a stupid and
pointless way to die.'
- Julia Melik, an administrative assistant at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, where an 18-year-old first-
year student died of alcohol poisoning last week
ye a # -T R E A D - b o w . . ."e d e .
N 7K iT Says RECTAL. PRot Ar.J)
£107CMPA G W Fi NA 3CE 'O E .
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the Mold

.Transplant Games aim to encourage donors

o publicize the need for organ donors,
University Hospitals is working via the
Internet to broadcast an important event
fom down under. This week, 150
Americans will compete in more than 40
pompetitions, as the World Transplant
Qames take place. Drawn from across the
globe, the hundreds of competitors unite
under a common experience: all have
undergone organ transplants.
University Hospitals has lent its support
icy sponsoring a live Webcast of the scores
and a national update of the events through
the Website of TransWeb, a site dedicated to
providing information on transplantation to
potential donors and recipients. The
Webcast, sponsors hope, will increase traf-
fc to the site, spreading information about
4rgan transplants to a wider audience. As
the 5,000 organs donated annually fall far
ghort of accommodating the 55,000-person-
fong waiting list, both the University and
the game's sponsors have taken a much-
needed step toward bringing the issue of
organ donation squarely into global con-
Demonstrating the urgency of the issue,
a 1996 report reveals that in the United
States alone, 3,448 people died in 1995
while on the waiting list for a transplant.
The high number of deaths stems largely
from America's low number of donors: The
FDA reports that only about 20 percent of
the families of trauma victims consent to
donating their loved ones' organs.
Despite the chasm between demand for

the problem proves relatively uncomplicat-
ed, according to Congress. In a recent
report, it contends that better public educa-
tion and awareness could yield an 80-per-
cent increase in organ donation. In light of
this statistic, University Hospitals' partici-
pation in publicizing the World Transplant
Games constitutes a well-directed effort.
Currently, many Americans do not know
the protocol for making their organs and tis-
sues available after their death. Probably the
simplest and most effective means of ensur-
ing organ donation merely demands that
each person verbalizes his or her wishes to
family members or next of kin so that the
survivors may convey the wishes of the
deceased to doctors. Though driver's
license stickers and donor cards also act as
means of ensuring donation, the possibility
exists that they may be invalidated if a fam-
ily member or next of kin disputes them.
Michigan residents who wish to donate
organs may also register with the Transplant
Society of Michigan, which has recently
initiated a database of the wishes of all
Michigan residents who wish to leave
behind their organs.
The paucity of available organs costs the
world thousands of lives annually. However,
the situation does not have to exist.
Publicity and education, as exemplified
through the World Transplant Games, can
do a great deal to aid those in need of trans-
plants. Many resources exist to encourage
organ donation, however, people must have
both the knowledge and the desire to use

faces attack
When I arrived at Hillel
for a midnight service last
Sunday, I overheard a very
disturbing conversation.
After the service I spoke with
the person who told the story.
The traumatized story-
teller was a former University
law student visiting from out
of state for the football game.
His route to the midnight ser-
vice took him down Packard
Street. He was wearing a
black yarmulke (Jewish skull-
cap). As he was about to
cross a side street a car
swerved out of its way to try
to run him over. After they
passed him, the people in the
car shouted, "Kill the Jew!"
He continued on his way to
Hillel. Twice more the same
car drove by him, on Wells
and South Forest. Each time
the people in the car yelled,
"Kill the Jew!"
This obviously sounds
like a problem for the police,
but he could not recall any
identifying marks on the car.
I, too, have had similar but
not so life-threatening experi-
ences in Ann Arbor. I will
never wear a white kipah on
Friday night again: When I
was walking home one night
on South Forest, a car drove
by me. The people inside
kept yelling, "Are you
Jewish? Are you Jewish?"
Other people in the Ann
Arbor Jewish community
have had similar experiences.
In each instance, we all
assumed that the offenders
were students and, possibly,
drunk. I would have hoped
that human society would
have evolved beyond the
point of threatening bodily
harm to those who hold cer-
tain beliefs, especially in a
university environment that
preaches multiculturalism
and tolerance.
What $1.37
billion means
to students
I would like to start this
with a congrats to the
University's fundraising com-
mittee. It has obviously put a
great deal of hard work into
this latest and largest cam-
paign. However, the purpose
of this letter is not a pat on the
back, but a word of caution.
I set out to discover exact-
ly how much money $1.37
billion (the amount raised to
date) is. Put in terms that
apply to students, with $1.37

Milwaukee's Best (including
deposit), which, if stacked
three high and three deep,
could make a glimmering
silver wall from Ann Arbor
to New Orleans.
For the sports fan, you
could use the funds to buy
every student home football
tickets until the year 2550.
Alternatively, you could bribe
every starter in the American
League $10 million to ensure
that the Tigers win the pen-
In all practicality, the
University won't spend all
this at once, but even the
interest could have a pro-
found impact, like paying the
tuition for every single out-
of-state student.
My personal favorite is
using the annual interest to
hire one secretary for every 5
students to type their papers,
take their calls, and go to
class for them when they are
$1.37 billion is a lot of
money, and I'm not implying
that the University doesn't
deserve it. This money repre-
sents the power to make
every student's education
exceptional and I hope the
regents keep that in mind
when allocating its use.
No special
for children
of alumni
I am writing in response
to the letter titled
"Affirmative action is un-
American" (9/29/97). Hillson
contradicts himself when he
calls for our society to focus
"only on merit," yet approves
of preferential treatment for
children of alumni. The pref-
erential admission of "lega-
cies" might be a profitable
practice for those universities
that engage in it, but is in
fact the most unjust of all the
admission policies mentioned
in Hillson's letter.
To their credit, the spirit
of affirmative action policies
is to seek out those who must
work harder for their achieve-
ments due to the discrimina-
tory practices of our society.
A good example of this is the
disparity between the quality
of the average high school
education received by majori-
ty and minority students, as
mentioned by Hillson.
On the other hand, prefer-
ential admissions for the chil-
dren of alumni aids those
who need it least (usually
upper-income individuals
whose parents have a college
education). What is worse,
special treatment of legacies
promotes racial and ethnic

action needs
class analysis
Gregory Hillson's recent
letter on affirmative action
("Affirmative action is 'un-
American,"' 9/29/97) inadver-
tently highlights a crucial
problem with the ongoing
debate - it lacks a class
analysis. When affirmative
action opponents focus on
issues of race, expressing their
concerns about how affirma-
tive action policies are patron-
izing, counterproductive for
racial harmony (and hence
"racist") and many other
flawed and conveniently self-
serving arguments, they may
move some auditors to con-
clude that perhaps affirmative
action is, after all, the wrong
answer to a regrettable (but
essentially ignorable) series of
historical injustices. What is
conveniently ignored is the
underlying role of economic
class in keeping certain groups
from getting a seat at the table
of American prosperity.
Even Hillson admits that
substandard school systems
contribute to the disparity
between blacks and whites in
the United States. What he
never addresses is why it
"just so happens" that a dis-
proportionate number of
African Americans live below
the poverty line.
Just as opponents of busing
as a solution to integrating
schools ignored the fact that
economic differences kept
most black Americans from
being able to live in communi-
ties with decent schools (leav-
ing aside the outright discrimi-
nation that barred them from
free access to many neighbor-
hoods), affirmative action
opponents like to gloss over
the ways in which poverty
leaves so many citizens from
the advantages that make gain-
ing acceptance to universities
of the quality of the University
of Michigan imaginable.
Of cours, there are mil-
lions of poor whites in this
country, and they, too, should
be getting helped to gain
access to a better economic
life. So, if affirmative action
is extended explicitly to reach
the poor, regardless of ethnici-
ty, then critics like Hillson
will have to face up to a reali-
ty I suspect they would prefer
to avoid: what galls them
about affirmative action is
that it is not designed to help
those who already have a seat
at the feast, or a leg up toward
securing one.
Would middle-class folks
at the University and else-
where be willing to support a
system that would bring more

and changes of
old age escape us
ifwe let them
M y brothers and I used to spend a
week every summer with my
grandparents, who would shamelessly
spoil us. We'd sit around the entire
afternoon and eat popsicles and pota-
to chips, and
then go to a
movie or a base-
ball game.
Birthdays meant 1
piles of presents
that later meant
hours of fun
with new toys
instead of
clothes or
money or some- MEGAN
thing else boring SCHIMPF
to 10- and 12- PRESCRIPTIONS
yAnd-then the years passed.
And gradually we all got older.
Until one day I turned around and
they were old. Not just grandparent
old, but old-person old.
The gulf between older and younger
people grows.until the dy when
strength and vibrance fade a little and
things change forever. It is difficult,
as someone who is currently in the
prime of life, to comprehend the day-
to-day routine of someone who has
aged. It is a life without planners,
lunch dates, coffee shops, new music
or a quick pace. Instead of eight
things in an hour, there are one or two
events a week that become immeasur-
ably valuable. These little things,
these all-too-short times with loved
ones, become preciously anticipated.
and clung to.
It is a life lived vicariously throughw
children, nieces, nephews and grand-
And through oneself, years ago.
It is a time, instead of looking ahead
and wondering what the future holds,
to reflect on what one's life holds in its
history. It is a time to pass on that
knowledge, instead of absorbing it.
To young people, unfamiliar with
serious confusion and able to recite
any number of passwords and PINs,
the loss of lucidity that eventually
accompanies old age is frightening. To
those of us accustomed to knowing
minute detail for bubble exams and
blue books, it is unsettling to compre
hend how a mind could forget when
one's spouse died or how one's parents
died. Or why the mind can remember
one's own date of birth but not one's
It is even more confusing to watch a
person you know and love regress..
from the self you remember. And to
know that you have forever lost part of
who that personality was.
But you have not lost that person.
The safe little world called child-
hood is sealed away safely forever in
memory. But time moves on, and"
changes become noticeable. Suddenly,
part of that security disappears: If old
age can claim someone who was once
strong and protecting, what will it
eventually do to you?
This immediate frailty and mortality
are deeply unsettling and tear at the
naive security of believing everyone
will live forever. In the midst of fear-
ing the distant future comes the desire
to grasp onto the present. So you buy
a tape recorder to remember voices
and stories. You take pictures and
frame older ones. You take the time to
visit, even if it causes havoc to the rest
of your week.

Because there's still something
there, but it won't last forever. And
now you realize it can't always be the
way it was.
I spent time with a 94-year-old,
woman earlier this week who says she
is ready to die. The statement sounds
as bluntly real as it is.
And yet she is not waiting to die, a
trap many older people either fall into,
or are assumed to have. Her personal.,
determination has taken her from a
wheelchair to a walker to a cane. She
walks upaand down a hall six times a
day to avoid becoming a "sitter."
Physical therapy every morning and
night is building strength, preventing
dizzy spells and allowing the simple
freedom of moving her fingers at will.
Unclenching her fist is an act of
incredible pride.
But she can do it.
Our inclination is to be surprised and
impressed by these simple acts of dex-
terity and perseverance, to look at this
woman through two good eyes and
with our nimble fingers and smile as if
we were looking at a 5-year-old who
just finger-painted. Because little
things like walking without falling
down are not consciously appreciated
by most people in their 20s.
Yet here is the truth: She is living.
She~ hs oals. she ha s a schedule, she












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