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April 21, 1998 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-04-21

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6 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 21, 1998


Mead should let
engineers make
fun of each other
I am writing to the Daily in
response to Richelle Mead's well-
written letter ("Response was in poor
taste" 4/13/98) regarding my com-
ment on Tom Strait's ostentatious cor-
rection of Pi ("Pi's decimal approxi-
mation was wrong," 4/1/98).
Richelle, do you want answers? I
believe you think you are entitled, and
you probably have the gall to want the
truth. Well, you can't handle the truth!
Richelle, we live in a world that
has disenchanted engineers, and these
disenchanted engineers have to be
reprimanded by people with a sense
of humor. Who's gonna do it? You? I
think not.
I, as a well-rounded engineer, have
a greater responsibility than you can
possibly fathom. You weep for Strait
and curse the engineers - you have
that luxury. You have the luxury of not
knowing what I know, that Strait's
chastising, while tragic, saves lives.
And my existence, while grotesque
and incomprehensible to you, saves
You don't want the truth because
deep down in places you don't talk
about in LSA classes, you want me to
belittle Strait, you need me to rebuke
Strait. We, as hard-working engineers,
use words like "aerodynamics
"torque" and "friction." We use these
word as the backbone of a life spent
building structurally sound buildings.
Richelle, you don't even understand
those words.
I have neither the time nor the
inclination to explain myself to a per-
son who rises and sleeps under the
security of the very bridge that I build
and question the manner in which I
ridicule a fellow engineer. I'd rather
you just said "thank you" and went on
your way. Otherwise, I suggest you
pick up a calculator and start crunch-
ing numbers. Either way, I don't give a
damn what you think you are entitled
Richelle, no hard feelings, just
please leave the tongue-lashing of
engineers to my girlfriend and me.
'U' must retain
professors who
are good
Because this campus has focused
its attention, with great justification,
on such issues as affirmative action
and discrimination, an injustice of dif-
ferent sorts has gone unnoticed by the
student community.
This institution has built its repu-
tation on athletics and research, and
while it's exciting to see a touchdown
scored by the Wolverines, or to read
an article written by University facul-
ty, that is not why we are at this
Have you ever broken down the
figures to see how much you pay for
each hour spent sitting in a lecture
hall, listening to the words of a tal-
ented, successful researcher who,
unfortunately, also happens to be a

horrible teacher? Have you ever
skipped out on a dull lecture? That
is thousands of your dollars down
the drain.
Very few professors have been
worth the amount of money I pay to
learn from them. In fact, I can count
on one hand the teachers who have
been memorable in my academic
career here at the University.
One of these teachers, after 23
years of dedicated service, has just
been informed that she is expendable
to the University's curriculum.
No teacher has been more gen-
uine, enthusiastic or giving to her
students as Dr. Sherry Hatcher, an

adjunct associate professor in the
department of psychology.
Responsible for its conception,
Hatcher is the heart of the psycholo-
gy department's Peer Advising
Practicum; a program that, over the
past seven years, has provided
invaluable services to the student
community. She has played a central
role in every peer-helping program
on this campus. In stepping outside
the research arena, in dedicating
herself to her students, Hatcher has
been a positive, influential figure in
the lives of so many graduate and
undergraduate scholars.
Recently, Sherry Hatcher was
nominated to receive tenure at this
institution. She was turned down. In
doing this, we believe the University
has issued a statement that it cares
more about research status than
about students and the education
they receive. At the expense of tal-
ented, caring teachers, this
University too often supports
research-oriented faculty. Slighted
by the University, Hatcher has hand-
ed in her resignation. This is an
incredible loss to the community,
and the students will suffer. We are
curious to learn more about the
process of gaining tenure, because
we honestly feel that Hatcher is a
most-deserving professor, held in
highest regards by all her students
present and past.
We have not been the most active
of students but we are incredibly pas-
sionate about this issue and feel the
need to be heard. Weare hoping the
administration will acknowledge our
stance. If anybody feels strongly
about this or similar issues, take
action. Show support for professors
like Sherry Hatcher. If we can be
heard miles away cheering from the
stadiums, certainly we can raise our
voices to a level, loud and clear
enough, to be heard in the academic
'U' policy is
unfair to
I'd just like for everybody to
know of U of M's skateboard policy
where it is illegal for anyone to oper-
ate a skateboard on University cam-
pus. Rollerblades, no problem. Bikes,
have fun. But skateboards, now, you
are going to get a $50 ticket. We all
know the skater stereotype: rude,
obnoxious, destructive and belliger-
ent. But this is no reason to deprive
them of their enjoyment. After all,
not all skaters are like that. When I
illegally skateboard to class, I care-
fully pass people so as not to hurt
them. I don't consider myself rude or
destructive, but rather kind and car-
ing. And why make skateboards ille-
gal? I can't tell you all of the times
when I've almost been ran over by
some biker while walking to class.
What about rollerblades? If the
University is complaining about
rounded edges on curbs, they will
soon learn that rollerbladers grind on
curbs too. The only reason there
could possibly be to prohibit skate-
boards is that a skateboard might fly
out and hit somebody. Well again,

this,points back to irresponsible
skaters. I'm very careful when I do
tricks and make sure nobody is
around to get hurt.
The fact of the matter is that the
University doesn't want to accommo-
date skateboarders. Z-roller trucks
could be purchased. These trucks roll
on curbs rather than slide, and would
therefore cause no damage. If the
University is complaining about dam-
age to sidewalks, soft wheel can be
purchased. They not only ride
smoother, but prevent ruts in the
pavement. Of course, those huge
University trucks driving on the pave-
ment wouldn't have anything to do

with this. If it is liability there wor-
ried about then just show me where to
sign. And besides, it's not like my
$26,000 tuition wouldn't cover any
damages to the school.
The bottom line is that the school
cannot prohibit something on the
grounds that it could potentially hurt
somebody. That's prior restraint. If a
skater hurts somebody because of his
recklessness, then never let him skate
again, but don't punish everybody
because of one degenerate. You'll
always have a crazy man with a gun,
an alcoholic in a car, and a degenerate
with a skateboard, but it's unconstitu-
tional to make guns, alcohol or skate-
boards illegal.
'U' should cut
connection with
Nike Corporation
Although I was glad to see a photo
of the "giant shoe" on the cover of the
April 16 Daily, I was disappointed
when I could not find any article
about the reasons for this protest. The
"Just Don't Do It Campaign" urges
the University to suspend its contract
until Nike pays a livable wage, not
based on overtime, promote working
conditions consistent with human
rights, allow workers the freedom to
join a union, and allow independent
monitoring by local human-rights
In 1994, the University's Athletic
Department signed a multi-year, S7-
million contract with the Nike
Corporation. Since that time, there
have been numerous reports of seri-
ous and widespread labor abuses in
Nike factories overseas. Nike
employs over 400,000 women and
young girls in dozens of factories in
China, Vietnam, Indonesia and other
countries. Many human-rights and
labor-rights organizations have visit-
ed factories and talked withthe
workers over the last few years.
They have found that workers are
routinely paid below the minimum
wage and are often not making
enough to live on. Forced overtime
is commonplace, as workers are
often required to work from 60 to
80 hours per week. The factory con-
ditions are environmentally unsafe,
with high levels of toxic solvents
and glues used in the shoe produc-
tion. Physical and even sexual abuse
of workers for minor infractions
occur. Independent labor unions or
other worker organizations are dis-
couraged, and many workers have
been fired, beaten and jailed for
organizing activities. Independent
monitoring of these factories by
qualified outside observers is for-
bidden. These are sweatshop condi-
tions, and workers across Asia risk
their employment and their lives by
going on strike and struggling
against these abuses on a day-to-day
Unfortunately, the University has
chosen to publicly ally itself with a
corporation that has a history of
seeking out low-wage labor and
authoritarian governments that keep
that labor cheap. The shoe and
apparel industries thrive on sweat-
shop labor, and the University,
through its contract, advertises for
Nike and helps Nike profit. The
University is known throughout the

world as a superior institution of
scholarship and learning, represen-
tative of the best ideals of the liber-
al democracy. A stand against Nike
and its abuses would show the world
that corporations cannot buy silence
from a respected public University.
The University should expect and
demand the best behavior from its
corporate partners, rather than submit
to the so-called realities of the global
sweatshop marketplace.
We should all be aware of the
effects of corporations on people and
the environment. The entire industry
should be forced to improve their
practices. Since Nike is the largest

shoe producer and an industry leader,
other shoe manufacturers such as
Reebok and Adidas may follow Nike's
example in their improvements. The
University can and should be leading
the way toward ending the use of
sweatshop labor.
English class
offers the best of
This past semester, a group of 22
interested students enrolled in a sec-
tion of English 225 class. What made
this particular section of this course
unique was the fact that it was an
English class devoted entirely to ser-
vice learning. Requirements for this
class included multiple reading
assignments, a final service writing
project and keeping a personal journal
based on our experiences at individual
community-service sites.
The humanities aspect of this
course allowed us to reflect and dis-
cuss our personal situations and trans-
ferred them to writing. Through this
English service-learning class, we
were able to devote our time and
build relationships with the communi-
ty, which in turn gave our writing
more meaning and substance.
Students have always complained
about the lack of quality humanity
classes. We can assure you that this
particular class, if continued, can and
will fill that void. While there are
other community-service courses, what
made our English 225 class so unique
was that we integrated both a service
and humanities course that can be used
toward distribution requirements. Since
there are not many classes similar to
this one, we ask you to take the initia-
tive and encourage the University to
add these courses.
Aside from the fact that it is a
class that requires community
involvement, it has also introduced
us to the many different organiza-
tions that need aid in our communi-
ty. Now that we know they exist, we
have more incentive to continue our
relationship with them in the future.
We can say that through this class,
we not only gave back to the com-
munity but were able to receive
much more and develop skills and
experiences in and out of the class-
room. This is what it means when
we participate in community ser-
vice, and if it means taking classes
such as this one to discover that true
meaning, then we hope many of the
Daily's readers will take the initia-
tive to enroll in a class like this.
highlighted the
value of research
I enjoyed the Daily's thoughtful
and welcome insights into the many
public benefits of federal investment

in civilian research and development
("Scientific cents,' 4/17/98). Thanks,
too, for mentioning the Institute for
Social Research in the context of
your argument. We are gratified that
the Daily deemed us a worthy exam-
ple. Student involvement in our
research is vital to its openness to
new approaches and to intellectual
boundary crossings (i.e., interdisci-
plinary projects). We can and shall
do more in this regard. Thanks,
again, for the Daily's thoughtful edi-

Jones could learn
something from
Kenneth Jones, Minority Affairs
Commission chair of the Michigan
Student Assembly, wastes too much
time criticizing others which he could
be using to program real dialogues on
minority issues. He should be thank-
ing Brian Reich for compensating for
his inaction, not scolding him for an
unfortunate communication error. I
personally asked Jones to help Reich
with the Town Hall Meeting on Race.
He told me that he was too busy.
MSA must promote constructive
dialogue on campus, and they have
started to do that this year with two
very successful events. The first was
November's Affirmative Action 101,
programmed by the MSA Women's
Issues Commission. The second was
the Town Hall Meeting on Race,
which Reich and a few other MSA
members programmed independently.
The Minority Affairs chair should
learn from the success of his fellow
MSA members and build an active
movement on campus that does not
consist only of complaints and post-
hoe criticism.
should not be
based on race
Affirmative action in college
admissions, or giving preference to an
individual on the basis of race, is
designed to directly counter the
"unequal playing field" of racial prej-
udice. The basis for this is that
because of racial prejudices, minori-
ties will not have and have not had
the same opportunities as the majori-
ty, and therefore will end up in sub-
par inner-city schools. They will then
receive sub-par instruction and guid-
ance, as well as be subject to a whole
host of more difficult social distrac-
tions, and will therefore not score as
well on standardized testing, the cur-
rent standard evaluation method for
college entrance.
To try to level the playing field,
admissions adds points to what it sees
is the most affected group, minorities.
But this is attempting to correct the
effect, forgetting the cause. A white
person with the same lack of opportu-
nity should receive the same benefits
as a black person in a similar situa-
tion, just as a black person who has
had all the benefits that are unfortu-
nately more frequently possessed by
the white majority should not receive
these benefits. I therefore propose
that affirmative action in admissions
should be based not on race, but on
socio-economic status, ensuring that it
serves its original purpose, that those
with fewer opportunities are given
some preference. This preference
must be enough to acknowledge that
if these students had been given more
opportunity, they would have had the
merit to accomplish more.
Also, to address Avi Derrow's
letter ("Affirmative action is
racism," 4/9/98), "socially adjust-
ing" the scores is not unfair to him
in any way. Colleges want the stu-

dents who will add the most to the
diversity and advancement of their
campus. As for diversity, which you
don't seem to address as a legiti-
mate concern, socio-economic sta-
tus should bring students from a .
greater variety of backgrounds than
merely those whose skin color hap-
pens to one color or another. What
you do seem concerned about is that
you are given your full, fair chance
to get into the best college you can,
and that adding points to someone
else's scores is unjustly taking away
from your chances. But if you are
attempting to say that your stan-
dardized test scores accurately rep-

resent your academic merit or
capacity to learn from and add to
this college, this is incorrect. If you
went to a good suburban high
school. you will do better on your
SAT than someone from an inner-
city school in Detroit (black or
white) because you were better
instructed and prepared for it, not
necessarily because you had more
capacity. That is why the adjustment
is necessary - to truly establish a
basis for merit that transcends your
race and the opportunities you've
been given. A fair evaluation is all
anyone wants, right?


Race Initiative
has shown a
patter of
The April 8 article, "Dialogue
addresses race" quotes Michigan
Student Assembly Rep. Brian Reich
as saying, "you cannot represent
every single group on this campus -
in this nation - in one panel." I am
not sure that Reich recognizes the
irony of what his statement says about
the American system of government.
Let me begin with some of the
more obvious problems with the view
taken by the Advisory Board for the
President's Initiative on Race and now
echoed by Reich. First, it is near
impossible to separate issues concern-
ing Native Americans as individuals
from natives as sovereign nations rec-
ognized by law. To permit a Native
American voice to be heard would
promote questions about that sover-
eign status. That is the last thing the
Department of State wants. In exam-
ining Reich's statement, it takes no
leap in logic to see that he, like the
board, is denying the possibility that
there exists more than 300 nations
within the United States, and that
those nations can have distinct ethno-
cultural characteristics. At the same
time the board and Reich deny the
U.S. citizenship of Native Americans,
as guaranteed by the Indian
Citizenship Act of 1924, anyone who
researches that law will discover that
Native Americans did not have to give
up the citizenship or allegiance to
their nations. Very few non-Native
Americans understand this.
But suppose for a moment that we
temporarily suspend our disagreement
with Reich's notions and then histori-
cally assimilate the Native experience
into the experience of other minorities
We should at least be able to assume
that even without direct representation
on the board, that such a board would
not overtly discriminate against
Natives. We should be able to, but we
can't. The Advisory Board has a pool
of attorneys from the Department of
Justice to assist them. The problem is
the Advisory Board removed the
names of all Native American attor-
neys from that list. OK, so no Native
Americans on the Advisory Board and
no Native Americans as attorneys to
consult. We should at least be able to
presume that Natives can exercise their
right to free speech at the Town Hall
Meetings. We should be able to, but
we can't. Recently, there was a Town
Hall Meeting on race in Denver where
Natives were escorted out of the build-
ing by police after they attempted to
exercise their right to free speech.
Surely, the Advisory Board has
demonstrated a pattern of overt dis-
crimination against Native Americans
and their nations. How can one ratio-
nally entertain the goals of the board to
promote the value of diversity when
the board arrogantly and without apol-
ogy discriminates against Native
Americans and their nations? Reich
thinks that we should go listen to the
views of those who support the initia-
tive when those same people seek to
censor Native Americans' thoughts.

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