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December 04, 1998 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-12-04

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 4, 1998

Ije £idrlitn Duilg

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 boani.
All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
Mad as hell
Group demonstrates importance of activism

'A part of me wants to know there will be an answer to
our questions, but the reality is, we may never know.'
- George Cantor; on his and the University's investigation
in to the death of his daughter Courtney on Oct 16
- /9 LI/M8AUGH

Agroup of citizens across the nation is cur-
rently "mad as hell," and is "not going to
take it anymore." In response to the lengthy
impeachment proceedings against President
Clinton, the National Mad as Hell Campaign
has been formed for four main reasons: to
stop the impeachment effort, to stop
Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's investi-
gation, to stop wasting federal money on the
impeachment proceedings, and to move on to
what the Mad as Hell Campaign calls the
"more important business of the country."
While the group's platform is obviously
controversial, their activism is commendable.
The Mad as Hell Campaign is attempting to
get the attention of representatives in
Washington through the mass mailing of red
postcards that state the group's purpose.
Citizen participation in government is a fun-
damental part of the democratic process, and
in an age of comparatively lethargic political
activism, the Mad as Hell Campaign is a
refreshing surprise. Their participation in gov-
ernment can serve as a model for others.
Many people are discouraged from engag-
ing in any type of political activity because
they feel like they don't know enough about
politics. They don't watch "Meet the Press"
on Sunday mornings, and they don't read The
New York Times every day. But the actions of
the Mad as Hell Campaign show that a politi-
cal science doctoral candidacy is not required
to get involved in political issues. Any atten-
tive citizen who believes strongly in a cause
should attempt to promote it.
The group admits that its members do not
know how to bring the impeachment process
to a quick halt. But, as National Co-chair
Stephen Collins said, "To take a position on
this question would distract us from our major
goals." What the group does know is simply
that they want the proceedings to end, and that
Hiking prison budgets
State governments across the nation have
been sending a clear message to their
citizens recently: They would rather see
them in jail than in school. As part of a
national trend, New York Gov. George
Pataki vetoed a bill last April that would
have given $600 million to public schools.
Since 1988, the state has increased funding
for the Department of Correctional
Services by $761 million. While politicians
nationwide laud their own success at cur-
tailing crime, public education seems to
have been lost in the shuffle. From 1994 to
1995, state spending on prison construction
increased by $926 million while funding for
higher education fell off by $954 million.
In Michigan, the statistics are equally
grim. From 1996 to 1997, the Department
of Education budget was decreased by
almost $4 million while the Department of
Corrections received an additional $50 mil-
lion. Money is being siphoned out of edu-
cation and pumped into prisons. For all of
his rhetoric about education being a top pri-
ority, Michigan Gov. John Engler has been
systematically crippling the state's public
schools with budget cuts and charter pro-
grams. While Engler has claimed success
with schools, the numbers indicate other-

wise:' In 1996, not a single public school
district had more than 79 percent of its stu-
dents achieve proficiency in reading on the
High School Proficiency Test. The majority
of districts could claim only a 20 to 39 per-
cent proficiency rate. These facts speak for
themselves. Improving education, not pris-
ons, should be a top priority for the state
government. But, as Engler told The
Michigan Daily during an endorsement
interview, "We're very proud of our prisons

is enough for them to get involved.
Ordinary citizens are also deterred from
participating in government because they
believe the government won't listen to them.
While this may be true in some cases, it isn't
stopping the members of the Mad as Hell
Campaign. The group has already handed out
about 1,000 postcards in the Ann Arbor area,
and it is planning on distributing 1,000 more.
The fact that politicians in the District of
Columbia may not respond to the group's
wishes is not stopping the group from partici-
pating in the political landscape, and it should
not stop anyone else, either.
People can also decide not to participate in
government because they have never had any
strong political views. They never considered
themselves a Republican, a Democrat or even
an independent. The Mad as Hell Campaign
shows that the important thing is not that you
pledge allegiance to a certain party, but that
you have a strong belief about a certain issue.
Their group, a non-partisan effort, shows that
people from different sects across the country
can get involved.
Despite the example of a group such as
Mad as Hell, a majority of citizens choose not
to participate in government. Citing standard
reasons such as a lack of knowledge or time,
most Americans are content to stay out of the
democratic process. This is a shame because
today, participating in government is easier
than ever. With advances in technology, one
need not join a group or attend a meeting -
they can simply use a computer and e-mail
their representative in Washington.
The actions of the Mad as Hell campaign
show that everyone can get involved. Maybe
their efforts will be successful, maybe not. But
if the group achieves success, they will
demonstrate the benefits of not only being
"mad as hell," but being active as hell also.
;e crock
should not hurt schools
reflects this pride.
Part of the reason for this national shift
in priorities is that prison populations have
undergone staggering increases in recent
years. A study conducted by the Justice
Policy Institute found that from 1987 to
1995, prison and jail populations more than
tripled from 500,000 to 1.6 million. The
study concluded that "as states continue to
lay off teachers to pay for corrections offi-
cers, it is becoming more apparent that their
citizens are poorly educated and unemploy-
able - precisely the kind of person (sic)
who fill our prisons." States seem more
interested in punishing their citizens for
their transgressions than they are in trying
to solve social problems before they
become unmanageable. Young people who
commit crimes would be better served by
quality education (which would give them a
better chance to succeed in life) than they
are by going to prisons that teach them -
above all else - how to become better
Furthermore, this astronomical rise in
the prison population has not really made
our country a safer place. Eighty-four per-
cent of the increase in prison and jail popu-
lations-in the last 16 years can be accounted

for by nonviolent offenders. In Michigan,
Engler's "truth in sentencing" law requires
people to serve out the full terms of their
mandatory minimum sentences, creating a
need for more prisons by expanding the
number of people deemed unfit for life in
society. These alarming trends indicate a
growing gap between America's citizenry
and its elected officials. Governments con-
tinue to play an active role in people's lives,
but that role has changed from teacher to

Drinking raids
are 'not the
As a senior at the
University, I have seen many
things. However, I have never
seen such an aggressive
attempt by the police to cur-
tail underage drinking. These
raids on fraternities are not
the answer, though. Drinking
will just move back into the
dorms and at private resi-
dences. If the University and
community are so concerned
about the ills of alcohol, it
needs to be addressed in the
private home during middle
school and high school. Most
students have their drinking
mentality already set when
they arrive at college, so no
matter how many binge
drinking posters a student
sees at school, it won't make
a difference. Even though it
may look like the University
is winning the war against
underage drinking, it is mere-
ly scratching the surface of
the problem.
Big Ten has
had a bad
The Big Ten is not having
a good autumn. We lost Keith
Jackson, the voice of the Big
Ten for as long as 1 can
remember, and then Hayden
Fry, the very definition of the
term "classy coach," in the
same season. On top of that,
a national championship for
the conference seems as
impossible as a two-win
Prarie View A&M season
(barring a miracle that would
vault Ohio State into con-
tention). The next thing you
know, "experts" will be send-
ing a Payton-less Tennessee
team to the Fiesta Bowl to
face off against a real foot-
ball powerhouse like Kansas
State. Oh well, at least bas-
ketball season is right around
the corner.
not prohibition,
is the key'
As utterly horrified as I am
to admit it, I actually find
myself agreeing with Daily
columnist Jack Schillaci about
something. The subject is alco-
hol, specifically the current
legal drinking age of 21 ("We
are not our University's chil-

ences I've had so far at
Michigan, it seems the illegali-
ty of underage drinking consti-
tutes a significant part of the
"fun" in it. When will govern-
.ments learn that telling a per-
son they can't play with a cer-
tain toy only generates a desire
to sneak a peak when Uncle
Sam's back is turned?.
On the other hand, there
is a legitimate alternative: the
destigmitization of alcohol
from our society. A case in
point: Orthodox Jews.
Among all religious groups
(to my knowledge), the
Orthodox have the highest
percentage of moderate
drinkers and the lowest per-
centage of alcoholics.
Throughout childhood, they
are exposed to alcohol, and
learn to respect - not abuse
it. Thus, they rarely develop
the urge to binge frequently
the moment they leave home
for new experiences.
Although admittedly, I do not
always show the greatest self-
control around alcohol, I feel
my upbringing (not
Orthodox, but still with a
constant exposure to alcohol)
has turned me into a person
who has not once blacked
out, thrown up, passed out or
even gotten a simple hang-
over. Moderation, not prohi-
bition, is the key. Freedom
and self-control, not regula-
tion and the nanny-state.
Choice, rather then statism.
Extra days off
are a waste
of money
I am writing in regard to
what I see as a growing trend
on our campus. More often
than not, professors and grad-
uate student instructors cancel
class on the Wednesday prior
to Thanksgiving recess. This
tends to be a response to stu-
dent request and poor atten-
dance in the past on that day.
As more and more professors
and GSIs cancel class on that
Wednesday, it becomes a de
facto part of the vacation.
Please do not get me wrong
- I value vacation and
opportunities to visit family
and friends as much as any-
one else - but I also believe
that since we pay a great deal
of money to attend school, we
should take advantage of the
opportunity to its fullest. The
semester is quite short to
begin with - any cancella-
tion of normally scheduled
classes only makes it shorter.
I urge professors and
GSIs to schedule at least
semi-important activities for
the Wednesday before
Thanksgiving in order to
force we students to either
adapt our travels to our class-
es or to accept the conse-
quences when we decide to
lengthen our vacations.

Alumni are
dedicated to
'M' football
I am writing in response to
Reza Breakstone's letter in the
Dec. 1 edition of the Daily,
"Alumni Need to Be More
Active." In the letter,
Breakstone stated that our
alumni should be more like
OSU fans - spirited and out
of their seats. However, one
important piece of information
was left out - OSU alumni
are way too into OSU football
for their own good.
I recently travelled to
Columbus, Ohio, for the game
with the marching band, and I
can honestly say, our alumni
have more class in their little
fingers than every OSU fan in
that stadium combined. OSU
fans found the need to scream
profanities at every U of M fan
in sight, along with other
obscene gestures as they throw
things at them. They booed the
band during our entire pre-
game show, and a good portion
of halftime as well - they
were so concerned with booing
us that they didn't even begin
to cheer for their own band
when they came on. And on
our march to the stadium, the
majority of the people berating
us were alumni and not stu-
dents. Even some of their kids
joined in the fun, flipping off
the marching band's buses as
we left Columbus.
Now is this how we want
our alumni to act? Like they
just drove out here from their
trailer parks? Our alumnihave
spirit. You don't drive from
Pennsylvania each Saturday in
the fall to go to the football
games in Ann Arbor if you
don't have spirit. You don't
have alumni clubs in cities all
over the country if you don't
have spirit. You don't sell out
all your allotted Rose Bowl
tickets if you don't have spirit.
And you don't run into alumni
driving cross-country to the
Rose Bowl, just to find the
tickets that they weren't able
to get due to the sell out. We
have the most supportive
alumni around. And if they
want to sit in their seats, so be
it. Season tickets cost enough
so it ought to be a luxury that
they can enjoy if they choose
to. They are still there, sup-
porting the team. Just because
they aren't screaming at the
other team doesn't mean they
aren't spirited.
U of M is a school built
on great traditions left by
those who came before us.
Maybe we should give the
alumni some credit. Even if
OSU's alumni are a little
more into the game, ours
built us a school with one of
the greatest football tradi-
tions in the nation and a pret-
ty good record against OSU
as well. We owe them
respet not criticsm. The

Despite the
warm weather
Christmas is in
the air
It's a good thing I don't need snow to
put me in the holiday spirit.
That white fuzzy stuff on the win-
dows at Ashley's is synthetic, studenk
walked the campus in T-shirts ysterd
and it smelled like
A few stacks of
heavy wool
sweaters are gather-
ing dust (literally)
in corners of my
room, and over
break, I made a
frantic search for
my sunglasses, LAUR
wondering all the MAYK
while what had hap-
pened to the winters SAYSS t
Michiganders brag
make them so tough.
But despite the balmy weather, it's
beginning to look a lot like Christmas
..Why? There's a Christmas tree at my
It's a little early, I admit, but the t
the ornaments and a box full of ch -
dren's Christmas books come down
from the attic every year around
Thanksgiving. Years ago, we started this
early tradition because we often traveled
out of state to see family during the hol-
idays and wanted time to enjoy the fes-
tive decorations. But as my visits home
from Ann Arbor became less and less
frequent, the Thanksgiving weekend
adopted the tree tradition.
My mother commented last week tv
I exhibit more childlike glee about orna-
ments and lights now than I did when I
was a child. I suppose it really wasn't
until college that I became a fanatic for
the season. Maybe equating December
with a few weeks at home, miles away
from campus pressures, make it even
more appealing than before.
And there's something comforting
aboutaunwrapping the same ornaments
year after year. The paint starts to0
off a little bit more every year, and
sometimes one or two elves require
some surgery with a hot glue gun, but
they wait patiently, wrapped in paper
towels and tissue paper, for the chance
to nestle into a tree branch for a month
or so.
In the name of tradition, tree-decorat-
ing night at the Mayk house is run under
specific guidelines:
1) Background music is essentia
the evening. Preferably, the play
should include The Andy Williams
Christmas Album and similar holiday-
themed ones with Robert Goulet, ing
Crosby and, if possible, Frank Sinatra
(he fits any season, really). These
albums, all recorded more than a decade
ago, provide not only the traditional hol-
iday songs, but a mix of "unique" selec-
tions that only these men could pull off.
I become so attached toThe A*
Williams Christmas Album arounddTie
holidays that my roommate once
banned it from our room before
2) Something must be in the oven,
producing sweet and fattening aromas,
during the festivities. I don't care what
you make (we recently abandoned the
elaborate pie and cookie recipes for
frozen cookie dough), but the house
won't be the same without it.
3) Take a break somewhere in
middle of the evening to watch either
"Twas the Night Before Christmas" or
"Miracle on 34th Street." The former is

affectionately referred to in my house as
"The Mouse Cartoon.' This animated
23-minute film supplements Clement
Moore's "Night Before Christmas"
poem with the story of the Trundles and
the mouse family that lives in their
When one of the Mouse chik
writes a letter to the local paper that
offends Santa, Mr. Trundle tries to come
to the rescue by making a clock that will
sing the jolly old St. Nick's praises and
convince him to make a stop in
Junctionville on Christmas Eve. The
clock breaks and the town turns against
the lovable clockmaker until ... well,
let's just say the poem ends just the way
it always does.
Throughout the show, the towns
ple and the mice occasionally break
song and take part in musical numbers
that involve leprechauns and the Easter
Bunny. That's not a joke - it's the best
4) The ornaments have a hierarchy in
the house -- and on the tree. Don't
make the mistake of putting the glass
1984 World Series ball or the yarn peo-
ple on the top or in the front. We'll move
them to a more "appropriate" local.
Guests and first-timers sometimesme
these mistakes.
5) Don't hang any ornament with
someone else's name on it.
6) Don't even think of hanging the
Ernie (of Sesame Street fame) ornament
with the broken foot. He's injured, but

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