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February 03, 1999 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-03

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 3, 1999

~fe dl~c.i~ttrn 1?uitg

Have degree, will travel, grovel,

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily. letters@umich.edu
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

HEATHER KAMINS
Editor in Chief
JEFFREY KOSSEFF
DAVID WALLACE
Editorial Page Editors

G6 anted: freshly graduated person,
21-23, with degree in English,
history, art history, film or any of the other
humanities. Duties include coming in late if
at all, being creative and traveling a lot on
the company nickel. Frequent video game

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.

playing and e-mail to
friends required. No
experience necessary.
Large starting salary
and benefits. The boss
is never around."
When we close our
eyes at night or have
feverish daydreams in
class, this is what
seniors see. Or per-
haps more generally:
"Position available:
Stuff you like to do.
Salary: Something
you can live on and
not have one of those
stupid spool coffee
tables or a futon."
This is not usually
These sorts of jobs

Threatening divesfty
Alliance of Connerly and Jaye is dangerous

James
Miller
Tap
available in reality.
are like expensive

The largest upshot of the job hunt, at my
place in life and education, is a tremendous,
seething, burning, writhing, bile-tasting
hatred for people older than you in your
profession or area of interest. They are,
after all the people with the jobs that you
want.
What creates all this resentment is every-
where I've ever worked there have always
been at least one or two wastes of money
and a desk chair. Either some trailer-haired
bitch queen with jowls and a Diet Pepsi
who spends her days gossiping behind her
partition or a self-important, self-congratu-
latory ass who likes to touch all the female
co-workers too much.
Companies are full of these people, and
the University has more than it can hold.
Puffy, stringy, soulless, dead little gold-
bricking middle management monkeys who
make 40, 50 even 60 thousand a year for no
reason at all.
Whereas a young, slightly inexperienced
recent graduate can't get a foot in the door of
his field, but Ed, the assistantmanagingdirec-
torofstrategyplanninganddirectives needs a
cost of living raise. Sorry kid, that job's for a
grown-up and we look after our incompetent
own. How about another unpaid internship
that won't lead anywhere? I could always use
a bright, energetic kid to water my plants and
make coffee. You have a bachelor's degree?
That is SO cute. You know that bitch Sue at
the end of the hall? No college degree and
she has the job you want and she can't be
fired. Isn't that a hoot? Well, we'll keep your
resume on file. Could you get some coffee
for Sue before you take the bus home?
Thanks.
But I've digressed.
Maybe this is because I don't have a very
technical understanding of business or eco-
nomics, but why is it that things that are

beg, eat dirt
fun, exciting, interesting, valuable or stimu-
lating have no money connected to them at
all? Art, music, literature, culture, journal-
ism, environmental work, filmmaking, edu-
cation, learning, progressive politics; all
that stuff might as well have a sign on it that
says money repellent."
But things that are boring, destructive
and filled with idiots have more money
than they know what to do with.
Publishing companies, art galleries, pub-
lications or anything having to do with the
humanities or culture have to fight for every
nickel and has no money to hire you (Sue
has your job there). However, a piece of shit
software company or "consulting firm"
staffed completely by people who tape
"Dilbert" is busy putting another layer of
gold on the fixtures and hiring someone to
"re-engineer its routine process of imple-
mentation electronic messaging."
And while I'm being random, all of you
who are or are trying to be consultants:
what do you do'? If you just start being a
consultant without having had another
career first, what are you qualified to con-
sult about?
Is this a prank?
What does this leave the new graduate? A
few things to keep in mind:
1) The employed like to protect each
other. That means not hiring you, as new,
young employees like to work and do
things. This is bad. Administration and
management perpetuates itself, and can't
expend resources to hire the likes of you.
2) Things that you like have no money
related to them at all.
3) Sonebody who is dumber, more taste-
less and mre worthless as a human being
will always make more money than you.
-James Miller can be reached over e-
mail atjamespm@umich.edu.

"

O n the University campus, the word
diversity is used quite frequently and the
concept' is incredibly valuable. Yet current
efforts are placing that precious privilege at
risk. The most recent progress in the battle to
ban affirmative action at the University and in
the entire state is another reminder we are
faced with more than just idle threats.
Ward Connerly, a former regent for the
University of California system, was a key
player in banning the use of affirmative action
in his state. Connerly already has a substantial
track record when it comes to defeating the
use of preferences in college admissions,
through Prop. 209. No longer a part of the
school system in California, he has since set
his sights on repeating his success in
Michigan. Along with state Sen. David Jaye
(R-Macomb), another strong opponent of
preferential admissions, Connerly may
attempt to have a proposition similar to
California's on the ballot by the next election.
These events cannot be met with noncha-
lance by students. Look no further than
California - where underrepresented minor-
ity enrollment in the University of California
system has dropped by 9.5 percent since the
passage of Prop. 209. It becomes clear that the
diversity we value so highly is at risk. While it
may not be immediately apparent, we learn as
much simply by being in the presence of stu-
dents with varying backgrounds than we do in
the classrooms. Maintaining this precious mix
of students is crucial to everyone's learning
experience, especially since not everyone fin-
ishes high school having been provided the
same educational opportunities. "Color blind"
admissions processes rely on factors that are

determined as much by income and location
as by ability. The present social climate calls
for a college admissions policy that favors
those who are at a disadvantage.
California has fallen victim to the politics
of people who, regardless of their motives, are
fighting to create homogenous student bodies
and deny college students the right to a cam-
pus that reflects the diversity of our nation. It
is these same people who have marked
Michigan as their next target. Connerly and
Jaye have both the knowledge and the capaci-
ty to spearhead a powerful campaign to end
affirmative action in the state.
Faced with this distressing fact, students at
the University need to recognize its gravity
and take an assertive role in opposing
Connerly's and Jaye's efforts. Students must
begin to realize exactly how the campus
would be effected by a ban on affirmative
action in Michigan. Those who take diversity
for granted might consider what the
University would be like if it became homoge-
nous in terms of ethnicity. The variety of
issues, viewpoints and windows into the
lifestyles of different communities would dis-
appear. The quality of education outside the
classroom would diminish. Students would
not be admitted because certain criteria,
specifically test scores, are not up to par -
which may often be a result of opportunity.
It is yet to be seen what will occur as a
result of the anti-affirmative action efforts
here in Michigan. Regardless of the final out-
come, however, it is imperative that students
recognize these efforts as a serious threat to
our community. It is an attempt to take some-
thing the community can't afford to give up.

turntables. That is to say other people you
don't know who are not you have them.
Ever.
This sort of posting is more likely, if the
job market was more honest:
"Wanted: Doltish ripesuck of a new grad-
uate in the workforce. Will provide attrac-
tive sounding duties during the interview
process. Will allude to a salary. Will actual-
ly create the illusion of a pleasant, reward-
ing fulfilling entry level job that will not
lead to poverty or death at the hands of the
student loan people. Actual duties will
include stuff that made everyone else
threaten to quit. Salary: A running joke in
the human resources department."

wS

Scorr RoTHMAN

SOMEKNUCKLEHEADS

IIr Ylriii l III

You're out
'Three Strikes' laws are unjust

A common legal anecdote is the old moral
conundrum of whether it is fair to pun-
ish a man for stealing bread for his starving
family. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court
indicated it might do just that when it refused
to hear the appeal of California prison inmate
Michael Riggs, who was sentenced to 25
years to life for stealing a bottle of vitamins
from a local grocery store. Riggs, who was
homeless at the time of the 1995 theft, wrote
his own appeal from Corcoran State Prison,
where he is currently serving his term. This
unusually severe sentence is a result of
California's "three strikes law," which allows a
judge to give a life sentence to any person
convicted of two prior felonies (violent or
not), even if the third conviction is a misde-
meanor, as was the case with Riggs.
California is not the only state that has
such laws - nearly half of the states have
some form of "three strikes" legislation. In
Alabama several years ago, Douglas Gray, a
husband, father and Vietnam veteran was sen-
tenced to life without parole for buying mari-
juana from a police informant. Gray had been
arrested for a few petty crimes - crimes
which did not even carry a prison sentence -
13 years earlier. Cracking down on crime has
become a battle cry for politicians nationwide
as they face off in the public spotlight, eager
to win votes and pad their legislative resumes.
It seems many lawmakers are either blind or
indifferent to the human and ethical conse-
quences of their bold posturing.
The Supreme Court is supposed to be a
check on these zealous legislators and gover-
nors, shooting down laws that compromise
justice for publicity. Only Justice Stephen
Breyer voted to hear Riggs's appeal; four
votes are required to grant a hearing. Justices

Paul Stevens wrote an opinion piece that stat-
ed that the case raised "obviously substantial"
issues but then voted not to hear it. Riggs's
punishment is clearly disproportionate to his
crime - it is one a California court called "a
petty theft motivated by homelessness and
hunger.' The three strikes laws seem to call
for what the Eighth Amendment forbids as
"cruel and unusual punishment." It is the
responsibility of the Supreme Court to hear
and decide upon constitutionally questionable
legislation.
The act of writing specific sentencing
requirements into law treads on dangerous
ground. The judiciary and legislative branch-
es are separated for a reason - those who
make the laws should not be the same as those
who interpret them. But "three strikes" laws,
as well as mandatory minimum sentencing
laws, which have gained quite a bit of popu-
larity recently, tend to impede on the discre-
tion of judges and limit their ability to evalu-
ate convicts on a case-by-case basis. These
stringent sentencing laws are at least partially
responsible for the staggering rise in the U.S.
prison population, which is now at 2 million.
The rush to imprison as many people as
possible for as long as possible is an alarming
trend sweeping through state governments -
and the highest court in the land is doing noth-
ing to stop it. The process of sentencing
should be one of assessing the seriousness of
the crime and determining, among other
things, the relative danger that the convict
poses to society. The conversion of sentencing
- normally the privilege of an impartial
judge - into a political tool represents a dis-
quieting shift in the balance of power in our
country and has turned a starving man in
search of nutrition into an ominous symbol of

GSIs are hired to
'facilitate the
learning experience'
TO THE DAILY:
When I used to hear about illiterate
students graduating from high school, I
often wondered how that was possible.
After reading the letter from Matthew
Murphy "GSIs' Role at the 'U' is 'often
unwanted,"' (2/2/99) I now realize that
not only is it possible for a student to
graduate from high school without hav-
ing learned a fundamental skill such as
reading, but it is possible for a student to
graduate from a prestigious university
without having learned much.
Murphy demonstrates the lack of one of
the fundamentals of a college education -
that one's attendance in class should not
only be a function of its role in the final
grade, but for its role in the learning
process.
In my experience as a GSI in the
School of Business Administration, I
have found that the students who were
most disappointed with their GSs were
those who came to class expecting GSIs
to spoon-feed them the information nec-
essary to do well on the exams without
expressing any desire to learn. Without
fail, these same students are the ones
who fare poorly in the course. GSIs are
not intended to teach students what they
need to get a grade, but to facilitate the
learning experience. I have found that the
students who do well in their courses are
those who demonstrate the initiative to
do theassigned readings, attend lectures
regularly, and then use the GSI-taught
sections to clear up points or issues on
which they are unclear.
Murphy, a senior in the College of
Literature, Science and the Arts, has
deemed it necessary to draw from his per-
sonal experiences with GSI-taught classes
at the University to demand that the
University "declare that a student's atten-
dance in a GSI-run class ... not be used as
a basis for grading."
The attendance policies at the
University arednecessitated by students
exactly like Murphy who would not attend
unless it was mandated as a part of the
grade for the course.
During my undergraduate coursework in
LSA, I have found that the only courses
which weigh one's attendance record in the
final grade are those classes where majori-
ty of the learning is derived from the class
discussions.
You are not in grade school or high
school. You are in a prestigious institution
of higher learning. What makes the learning
experience world-class is the opportunity to
learn - through discussions - that
although 20 to 30 students all read (hope-
fully) the same assigned material, due to the
differences in past experiences and cultures,
there were 20 to 30 different perspectives
on the same issue. That is the learning that
is most valuable from a college education in
LSA.

.rr -."

wha - the cov~rnerwr f* 4hutc bta
tin~rWhig 5Lwero5 bA *$UtS

Iraqi resolution is
not properly focused
TO THE DAILY:
I have decided to resign as one of the
Michigan Student Assembly's four executive
officers in the wake of the Assembly's deci-
sion on Jan. 26 to officially oppose the eco-
nomic sanctions against Iraq. That said, I also
wish to warn all politically interested students
on campus of a potentially dangerous shift in
the assembly's focus.
I have spent the last three years on MSA
arguing against the University's use of affir-
mative action in its admissions processes. As
such, I have been naturally opposed to the
political goals of the Defend Affirmative
Action Party, which has gained influence over
the Assembly's affairs in the last year.
But in pushing the resolution regarding
Iraq through the assembly, the DAAP has
revealed that it has no plans to limit its initia-
tives to matters of civil rights. Convinced that
they hold both the correct view on social
issues and the support of campus, members of
the DAAP have announced that they plan to
use the Assembly as a rallying point for their
comrades.
Regardless of your personal political
stance, you must realize the danger posed by
any group claiming to have a unique under-
standing of world affairs and a prominent pul-
pit from which to preach.
If you believe as I do that MSA exists to
serve students rather than to speak for them, I
ask that you take the time to vote this March
for candidates who have concrete plans for
how to improve student life, rather than voting
for political demagogues with delusions of
grandeur.
DAVID BURDEN
ENGINEERING SENIOR
Balanced coverage
of campus issues is
important
TO THE DAILY:
Days like these urge me to question the
Daily's policy of printing every verifiable let-

Amendment and all, but it allows all manner
of tripe leak through.
Take, for example, Geoffery Stanton's
truly incredible complaint that the Daily offers
too much sports coverage ("Daily sports cov-
erage is excessive," 1/26/99). He's entitled to
his opinion (since I surely don't want it), but
he bases it on the faulty assumption that one-
half of the Daily is devoted to sports. On the
very day his letter appeared, the sports section
filled approximately one-quarter of the Daily.
Counting only the actual space devoted to
news (and excluding ads), there were three
pages of news, one page of opinion, about
one-and-a-half pages of Arts and one-and-a-
half pages of sports.
Stanton proposes that the Daily cut its
sports space and give that space to interna-
tional news. While there are obvious technical
hurdles to clear before the Daily can dispatch
its sports staff to the Middle East or the
Balkans, I think the more salient point is that
Stanton is blind to the Daily's mission. While
CNN, The New York Times, public radio and
TIME cover Washington and the world, only
The Michigan Daily serves the University
community and devotes so much time to cov-
erage of its issues and events.
When I served as a news editor for the
Daily, we adopted the philosophy that a judi-
cious sprinkling of nation and world stories
was important, so readers wouldn't miss key
developments in major stories.
Stanton asks, "At a university that is sup-
posed to be about diversity and equality, etc.,
doesn't it make sense that all topics should be
treated equally?"
Of course not. One could fill the graduate
library and come no nearer to that goal. No
voice has been a stronger supporter of diversi-
ty and the equality of individuals than the
Daily's, but certainly not all issues were creat-
ed equally. The safety of the University com-
munity, the actions of the University leader-
ship and the success of University's sports
teams - these topics are more important to
the Daily's readers, and therefore to the Daily.
As a final note, I'd like to congratulate the
outgoing seniors at the Daily for doing such a
fine job. I applaud this paper for its aggressive
focus on the University community. It's an
often thankless job, though it shouldn't be.
The Daily provides an independent voice and
a free service that I feel the University very lit-
erally could not live without. It's been another
proud chapter in the Daily's history.

;i

*9
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to4b,

I

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