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October 21, 1997 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-21

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 21, 1997

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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
Every bit counts
Tax exemption could save students cash

'I think this debate comes from between the means and
the end. Mainly the end is for us to have a diverse stu-
dent body. At this point, affirmative action is the means.'
-University Regent Philip Power (D-Ann Arbor), during the regents 'discussion
of the class action lawsuit filed against the University last week
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Earlier this year, both houses of the
Michigan legislature discussed propos-
als to exempt college textbooks from the
state's 6 percent sales tax. The law would
amend the 1933 General Sales Tax Act that
makes food and prescription drugs tax-
exempt. However, the state legislature has
been slow to act on any of these proposals.
The longer they wait, the more students
must endure the already significant finan-
cial burdens of a college education.
With tuition costs steadily rising, it is
becoming increasingly difficult for students
fo afford an education here. Tremendously
high textbook prices add to students' finan-
cial difficulties - many students have dif-
ficulty gathering up enough cash to buy
necessary course materials. The sales tax
collected for textbooks represents a small
portion of the state of Michigan's general
fund. However, eliminating such a tax could
play a small part in alleviating students'
heavy financial responsibilities. Given the
high costs of attending an institution of
higher education, students would benefit
from any cost-saving measures. For exam-
ple, a student who spends $400 on text-
books per semester would save $24. While
it may seem like a drop in the bucket, every
drop counts when students try to plan a
If the tax exemption bill passes, the gov-
ernment would receive a little less money,
but it would help its student constituents.
Politicians frequently underestimate the

importance of the student vote and its
potential power. Legislation to help students
in their pursuit for higher education should
take a much higher priority than it has as of
The textbook sales tax exemption bill
has been relegated to the legislature's back
burner. One state representative estimates
that the bill will not come to the floor until
early next year. For students at the
University, who usually buy textbooks in
September and January, this is not a good
omen. The legislature needs to prioritize the
bill so students can begin saving as soon as
By eliminating the tax on textbooks, the
Michigan legislature would take a first step
in curbing textbook expenses. But when it
comes to holding down students' book costs
- which frequently border on obscene -
many other factors enter into the picture:
Publishers should be encouraged to hold
down yearly textbook-price increases -
these annual increases may range as high as
20 percent. Moreover, professors should
make a concerted effort to keep student
costs in mind when assigning texts.
Twenty or 30 dollars may not seem like a
lot. But for students, it amounts to a few
meals, or the electric bill for the month. The
state of Michigan must continually search
for means to hold down higher education
costs - an expeditious vote in favor of a
textbook tax exemption would be a positive
step in this process.


Working it out
Job training would assist state

n a time when balanced budgets and
downsizing social programs are the
political vogue, welfare programs find
themselves threatened. Recipients face
large hurdles in maintaining the financial
support they receive from the government
- especially in Michigan, where recipients
have a limited amount of time until their
benefits are cut off. In order to get people
off welfare and prevent the mandatory cut-
off period from hurling them deeper into
poverty, it is important that the state spon-
sor job training and placement programs.
Help for the problem of finding work for
unemployed welfare recipients, in the form
of an $85 million grant, is available to the
state from the federal government. But the
grant does have one caveat: To get the
funds, the state must match half of the value
of the incoming dollars. The grant would
establish a program that would assist wel-
fare recipients and unemployed parents in
finding a job. However, Gov. John Engler
and the Michigan Jobs Commission are
wary of putting up the funds. In order to
prevent welfare rolls from skyrocketing, the
state must ensure that recipients have ample
opportunities to obtain employment - the
state should match the federal government's
The state of Michigan, in particular,
needs to implement programs that help
welfare recipients find work. Under pre-
sent state welfare regulations, recipients
are cut off after five years of unemploy-
ment. The rule is exorbitantly harsh, espe-
cially for people with inadequate job skills
or obstacles to finding employment. The

state should do everything within its power
to help people wean themselves off public-
assistance programs -- applying for the
federal grant may go a long way to sup-
porting the programs that could do just
The program would cost the state $42.5
million dollars over the disbursement of the
grant. The state's coffers can stand a drain
of that magnitude - on the other hand, it is
unlikely that an increase in welfare rolls
would benefit the state's bottom line.
Without help in finding jobs and learn-
ing new, marketable skills, welfare recipi-
ents may become dependent on govern-
ment-sponsored assistance programs, creat-
ing a perpetual cycle from which they
would have extreme difficulty escaping. It
behooves the state legislature to establish
programs that help get welfare recipients
into the work force - even if short-term
costs are prohibitive, long-term savings will
be beneficial. State officials should prevent
long-term budgetary distress by putting up
the money necessary to get the federal
With politicians sounding the budgetary
death-knell of social programs such as wel-
fare through extensive cutbacks, it is imper-
ative that people who are dependent on gov-
ernment-sponsored aid not fall into the
cycle of poverty. The federal grant is a
unique opportunity to prevent welfare's
downsizing from crippling the state's econ-
omy. The state should act on the chance to
create a program to help people get off wel-
fare, even if it does represent a short-term
strain on the state's budget.

The Code
justice system
1 believe that most stu-
dents who are at all familiar
with the Code agree that it is
at best, a frightening entity.
In fact, that's probably why
more than 200 students
protested its very existence 2
1/2 years ago. The regents'
response? "If you don't like
it, then you should have gone
to a different school because
you knew it existed when you
decided to come to the
University of Michigan."
1, of course, can't speak
for anybody else, but my
prior knowledge of the Code
was limited to what I was
told at orientation. My lead-
ers there mentioned that "Oh,
there's this thing called the
Code, but as long as you
don't do anything stupid, you
don't have to worry about it."
However, the more I learn
about the process and the
people (read: administration)
behind it, the less I believe
that statement.
Now, I don't claim to
know the truth behind what
happened in this particular
case, but when I relate it to
what I've heard and read
about other cases, I become
worried. The process seems
to allow for a double jeop-
ardy of sorts. Although it
does not fit within the classic
definition, one cannot bypass
truths of the process.
Alice Robinson noted that
neither student had legal rep-
resentation. However, she
failed to say why: It's not
allowed. In spite of the fact
that students have an infinite
amount of worries and con-
cerns about the proceedings
and the drastic effect which
they could have on one's
future, there is little support
set up. Certainly, the plaintiff
did not feel that way. The
Office of Conflict Resolution
was most supportive of her,
but the defendant was left
hanging, as has been the case
for manybefore him.
I think that what I find
most alarming is that evidence
can be admitted in a Code
hearing which is not allowable
in a court of law. Mary Lou
Antieau, the fuhrer of this
undemocratic process stated,
"The criminal justice system
has lower standards than the
University." Did anybody else
feel an eerie chill run down
their spine when they read
that? It feels like a seizure of
one's rights. Is America sud-
denly not good enough for
Mary Lou Antieau and those
behind the Code at this
University? Have our coun-
try's standards sunk so low
that the University feels it
tmust step in to fortify the
11. .. ..-. ._4 _ i t _

of their understanding of the
process, their maturity to
make such decisions and
their understanding of poten-
tial ramifications. While the
University does provide train-
ing, I fear that it is not
enough to ensure a fair
This is only the beginning
of what's wrong with the
Code. I hope that other stu-
dents will familiarize them-
selves with both sides of the
issue. I am fairly certain that
you will come to the same
ignores the
'big picture'
I have been reading about
the upcoming lawsuit against
the University's admissions
policy with interest. I support
affirmative action. However,
the one voice in this whole
dialogue who I completely
disagree with is pro-affirma-
tive action, the Coalition to
Defend Affirmative Action
By Any Means Necessary.
Whether the name is merely
a scare tactic, or real violence
is impending on anyone who
dares hold an opinion against
affirmative action, I am truly
I understand that this
issue may mean a lot to
members of BAMN, but
there are two sides to an
argument. Maybe it's time
they take a step back and
look at the big picture. They
fight for affirmative action
because it promotes diversity.
What is diversity? It is more
than just skin color. A diverse
campus, such as ours, should
strive for diversity of back-
grounds, appearances and
ideas. This is the contradic-
tion of BAMN. Anyone who
claims to be diverse' does
not threaten violence against
supporters of an idea which
he or she does not like. If
members of BAMN are rep-
resentative of this campus,
the attempt for true diversity
is failing.
Singing of
anthem was
I am writing in response
to Kumar Gopalakrishna's
letter "Photo of anthem was

symbolizing prayer.
American citizenship does
not mean we should lose our
Indian identity. As an
American citizen I refuse to
be categorized as one, Indian
or American, I will continue
to sing the Indian national
anthem with pride.
Columbus Day
is no cause
to celebrate
It is truly sad to see patri-
otism taken to an insane
level. It equally appalling to
see someone like Edward
Chusid ("Benefits of freedom
must come at a cost,"
10/16/97) berate a group for
trying to spread the truth.
American history has sadly
entered a state where it no
longer report history to stu-
dents but instead reports
myths and legends. American
history that students take in
high school is, in actuality,
American heroification. This
is why individuals like
Chusid do not understand
groups like those involved
with anti-Columbus day ral-
lies. What Chusid doesn't
understand is that the anti-
Columbus movement isn't
geared toward receiving com-
pensation for land taken by
European settlers, but those
who wish to make Columbus
a hero. The truth is there
existed many individuals in
Columbus' time who knew
the world was round. The
truth is Africans, Asians,
Europeans and many others
"discovered" Americaosng
before Columbus. The truth
is Columbus and his men
raped women, murdered
babies and pillaged nations.
In fact, most accounts now
point out Columbus' men
never tried to mutiny and
turn around Europe. To top
everything, Columbus didn't
even know how to captain a
fleet, he left others. And the
final truth is that Columbus
was the first transatlantic
I wasn't at the Anti-
Columbus rally, but after
reading Chusid's letter, I wish
I had been, because there are
so many who still don't know
the truth out there. I end with
this: "In 1492, Columbus
sailed the ocean blue. In
1493, he stole all he could
- .. - _

T here are two words to describe th
two students who were named a.
plaintiffs in the recent lawsuit against
the University's admission policies:
sore losers.
While they are
now symbols for
those who believe
affirmative action
has no place in
American educa-
tion (and I am cer-:.
tainly not going to
get into a philo-
sophical debate
about its detri-
ments or merits, as O OSH
there are many of WHITE
both), it is JUMPING
ambiguous THEGm-
whether the two
are champions of the cause or merely
disgruntled at their college application
process. I would bet it is the latter.
Reading their quotes and listening ton
their words, it is clear that these two
students were recruited to become the
poster children of a merciless machine
that is hell-bent on changing college
admissions nationwide. It also
becomes all too clear that they have
little stake in the game, other than the
satisfaction of being admitted to one
of the nation's premier universities.
Jennifer Gratz, who was refuse
admission to this school in 1995 and i
a plaintiff in the lawsuit, has the gall to
posit that "a wrongdoing" was the rea-
son she was not admitted to this
University. Of course it had nothing to
do with her relatively low ACT score
of 25 nor anything else, for that matter
- the University must hate her
because she is white.
And because she is upset that she
didn't get in, because she can't be on
of our classmates, she was lucky
enough to;find a group that wanted to
get her over the wall and into Ann
Arbor. That group, the Washington-
based Center for Individual Rights,
jumped on her story. Wouldn't it be
wonderful if each and every one of us
had our own powerful law firm to get
us into the schools that didn't accept
us? Maybe I can find someone or
some group that can get me into
Harvard. I mean, as Gratz said las
week, , too feel like I don't want any-
one "to go through what I went
Then there is Patrick Hamacher, who
didn't get into the University when he
applied in 1996. He says that he is
upset that minorities with lower "qual-
ifications" were admitted and that he
was not. What that means, in effect, is
that he is pissed off that he wasn'
given priority over them, instead o
vice versa.
His mediocre academic record land-
ed him at Michigan State and now he
wants a transfer - but only if the
admissions policies are changed so
that he doesn't have to look at all of
those minorities lest he be reminded of
his original rejection. Hamacher is dis-
gruntled at having "seen other kids
getting in, and they had much lower
credentials than" he did. So he's jeal
ous and he's getting even.
What amazes me about this whole
lawsuit is the idea that all applicants
are shoved in a big pile and the only,
determining factors are GPA, stan-
dardized test scores and race. In reali-
ty, there are numerous factors that can-
not be quantified in numbers, and one
of those happens to be "underrepre-
sented racial or ethnic minority identi-
ty or education." But the University
strives to provide a rich educational
environment that embraces all cultures
and ethnicities so as to allow diversity
and to reflect the world in which we

live. And its current policies don't
even go so far as to do that.
Our minority enrollment in 1996 o
was 25.4 percent. That is all xninori'
ties, from African American to Asian
American and everyone else who isn't
white. Our society is certainly not4
reflected in those numbers, yet people
still cryunfairness. It is those who are
not admitted who are crying the hard-




So is it fair to say that my high
school friends were discriminated
against because they are from another
state, thus subject to higher GPA and
test standards and in a position where
they are vying for far fewer spots? Is
the University discriminating agains
high school football stars who just
aren't good enough for a scholarship
to play on one of the premier teams in
the nation?
Perhaps the University actually
wants well-rounded people who are
not just a score. Perhaps the University
is looking at other factors and wants to

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