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February 12, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-12

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 12, 1999

420 Maynard Street HEATHER KAMINS
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 Editor in Chief

Affirmative action is our generation's '60s activism

Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

Editorial Page Editors

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.
Shared history
Black History Month speaks to all students

T his past week, thousands of Gen-Xers
spent two evenings watching their par-
ents' generation come of age in "The '60s,"
an NBC special about the attitudes and
events of one of this century's most outspo-
ken decades.
That decade is
often idolized and
idealized by today's
youth, who long for
the unity and passion
the protesters and
flower children
seemed to exude.
Perhaps '90s teen- Y
agers and 20-some-
things are enamored
by the decade
because the youth of -Laurie
that time played a Mayk
staring role in most of h
the prominent events. She
They were key play- Says So
ers in the establish-
ment of the Black Panthers, the Democratic
National Convention of 1968, the Vietnam
War, Woodstock and lively political cam-
paigns that ended both in victory and
tragedy for their candidates.
And today we complain of voter apathy and
a general disinterest in politics and social
movement. There is no cause around which to
rally, we say, and we simply don't have the
opportunity to make the same kind of impres-
sion our parents made. But we're wrong.
The struggle happening right in our own
backyard may be the defining issue of our
college-age generation. Within a year, we
may know the fate of affirmative action in
higher education, and by extension in gov-
ernment and industry.
The issue hasn't been a quiet one on the
University's Ann Arbor campus; supporters

and opponents have shouted at each other in
the Diag and in panel discussions, and
debates have brought some students to
tears, raised passions in others and even
made some afraid to speak their mind.
What began as a special interest of those
following the progress of affirmative action
challenges in California and Texas is slow-
ly finding its way into theme semesters,
course syllabi, student government and
campus and local media.
There were jokes when the activism
began on this campus about the familiar
faces of the protesters and organizers, who
seemed to have logged quite a few hours on
the picket lines of a variety of causes. The
campus chapter of the College Republicans
and a conservative state representative were
the only symbols of the opposition. Most of
the time, students passed the picket lines
and read quotes in newspapers with the apa-
thy we so despise about ourselves.
But in the year and a half since two law-
suits challenging the use of affirmative
action in the admissions practices of the
University's Law School and College of
Literature, Science and the Arts were filed,
the movement and the campus have changed.
Affirmative action and its fate at the
University has become an emotional issue
on campus. No longer do students have to
be publicly vocal about the issue to private-
ly express concerns or opinions. We are
beginning to realize that we are all affected
in some way, and that our backgrounds and
experiences play a major role in determin-
ing what side of the table we support.
Diversity on campus has been in the spot-
light. It makes us proud, and it scares us. It's
a lot easier to get along when we don't talk
about issues that tug at our emotions and
The movement itself - or perhaps I

should say the movement of each side -
has expanded as well. The language and the
practice of policies in California and Texas
have changed. The kind of attention fac-
tions are getting has changed.
Academics and activists thousands of
miles apart are cooperating and organizing,
days of action modeled after '60s teach-ins
and demonstrations. Will our children talk
about Michigan's connection to Jessica
Curtin and BAMN the way we talk about
Tom Hayden and Students for a Democratic
Soeiety? Maybe.
But most important, we are recognizing
that the lawsuits, protests and admissions
policies that we have been reading and talk-
ing about for the past two years have the
potential to change the way Americans think
and act about race, education and hiring
practices in the United States. If one or both
of the University of Michigan lawsuits reach,
the Supreme Court, which seems a definite
possibility, the protesters, state lawmakeks
and professors giving speeches in our back-
yard will make it into history books.
Many people on both sides of the issue
believe the time has come for the Court to.
take a definitive stand on affirmative
action. As times, attitudes and workforces
have changed, the definition and purpose of
the practice has been muddied. Regardless,
of whether the Court affirms the need for
such policies and sets legal guidelines for
the 21st Century or declares the practice
unnecessary and unconstitutional, the late W
1990s will be remembered as a pivotal time
on college campuses.
So if you haven't been paying attention to
all the shouting going on in our backyard,
start. You just might want to tell your chil-
dren you were here when it all happened.
- Laurie Mayk can be reached over
e-mail at jmayk@umich.edy.

February provides scarcely enough time
to honor the endless list of accomplish-
ments and contributions black people have
mnade to American culture, but Black
History Month provides an opportunity to
reflect on a more inclusive history. Coming
just weeks after the national holiday honor-
ing Martin Luther King Jr., Black History
Month is devoted not only to
black people, but people of all
cultural backgrounds.
Students should make an ! <
effort to attend some of the r:{ &T
many programs available on $ >< r<
Black history is severely :. ::;.::
®averlooked. Secondary 'I
schools provide a narrow and
.embarrassingly insufficient F et a.
view. American history text- vaAdd
books often brief overviews of X}9 O
a history that could easily fill a 'ud;
library. Black people have A .
impacted and shaped
American society through
countless avenues including ;eta i
literature, film, theatre, music,
politics and academics.
In an attempt to enlighten the
University community, numerous educa-
tional activities sponsored by various
tJniversity and student groups are sched-
uled for this month. Almost every resi-
dence hall cafeteria is sponsoring a special
dinner in honor of Black History Month.
On Feb. 18, Amiri Baraka will speak at
Chrysler Auditorium on North Campus.
On Feb. 20, students will have the oppor-
tunity to visit the Museum of African
American History in Detroit. These events

are only a few of the scheduled activities
for the rest of the month.
People of all backgrounds should partic-
ipate in the activities offered, as black histo-
ry concerns more than black students. The
scheduled events will enhance awareness of
the impact black people have had on this
country. By reflecting on the past, Black
History Month lends inspiration
' that helps chart a course for
future endeavors.
In the ongoing fight to
defend Affirmative Action at the
University, students should also
f : seize the opportunity to show
their support for diversity.
Students have much to learn
from the various cultures
brought together on campus.
j Black History Month fosters
respect and understanding of
one another. Taking the time to
t ' learn about different ethnic and
«'l'_ }£s racial groups is an invaluable,
sometimes life-altering experi-
xdns ence. While the University
offers a plethora of courses in
the history and culture of numer-
ous groups, people should go that extra
step and take advantage of what the
University has to offer outside the class-
Black History Month provides students
with an important opportunity to celebrate
diversity. But Feb. 28 - officially the last
day of Black History Month - is no reason
to stop seeking knowledge of the efforts of
black people, as well as people of other cul-
tures, in the ongoing development of this


Engler's budget ignores universities
T ust when it seemed that Gov. John to "equalize" higher education is a misdi-
Engler showed the least possible rected one. All K-12 public schools should
amount of respect for higher education, he be on par with one another, and that is how
surprised us all by releasing his budget pro- the state can achieve true equal education.
posal for the Fiscal Year 2000. Instead of But higher education institutions differ
realizing the importance of education to greatly from one another because they serve
Michigan's future, Engler recommended different purposes, therefore they require
inadequate funding increases for state col- different allocations. If Engler continues to
leges and universities. The University of misappropriate money to state universities,
Michigan was at the top of his hitlist, with a mediocrity will plague all of the state's
recommended increase of 1.5 percent. higher education institutions.
Engler has proven that it is impossible to It is important to remember that even
teach an old dog new tricks. This is the sec- with the "equalization" proposals, Engler
ond year in a row that he has proposed a simply has shafted higher education. While
1.5-percent increase, which is , the University was given a 1.5-
lower than the current Under Engler s percent increase, the
Consumer Price Index of plan, state univer- Department of Management
inflation. This year, however, sities would get and Budget, Engler's bureau-
he disguised his contempt for about $85 million cratic arm that helped develop
higher education by creating a the fiscal year budget proposal,
program in which the most less than the gave itself a 2.8-percent
poorly funded state universi- Department of increase and Engler's Executive
ties receive an extra increase Corrections Office was given an 8.5 percent
of up to 5 percent. This is hike.
merely a failed attempt at equalization of Most notable in Engler's plan is the 8.65-
educational opportunities. The governor percent increase he gave to the Department of
created four "funding floors," which man- Corrections. Sadly, the state's correctional
date the minimum amount of funding per facilities would receive $1.566 billion, about
resident students a university should be $85 million more than the amount he would
appropriated. give to the state's 15 public universities.
Contrary to Engler's view, there are Engler has demonstrated yet again that he
many valid reasons for the University of ironically cares more about building more
Michigan to receive more funding than any prisons than improving educational facilities.
other state university. In addition to provid- Last year, the state Legislature was able
ing classes for undergraduates and gradu- to move Engler's University funding
ates, like the other universities, the increase proposal to 2.5 percent. But unlike
University of Michigan plays many other last year, both branches of the Legislature
important roles in the state. It has the are Republican controlled, and many legis-
largest research expenditures in the country, lators are new due to term limits. So the
and many University academic programs members may be less likely to challenge
are ranked among the top in the country. Engler due to their own partisanship and
All state universities play an important inexperience. The legislators must move
role in Michigan. But the University of beyond partisan constraints and do what is
Michigan has different funding needs than right for Michigan - give reasonable
Grand Valley State University and Lake funding increases to the state's colleges and
Superior State University. Engler's attempt universities.
PHONE: (517) 335-7858

King Hussein
had impact on
students' lives
The Arab-American Anti-
Discrimination Committee Executive Board
would like to extend its condolences to the
Jordanian students on campus for their loss
of King Hussein this week. In the midst of
all of the media attention surrounding the
King's death, this should be a time of reflec-
tion for Jordanians and non-Jordanians
King Hussein's reign was marked by
many bold decisions, drawing both praise
and controversy. Regardless of what one
may think of King Hussein's leadership, it is
important to remember that he had an unde-
niable impact on Middle East politics and
the lives of the Jordanian people. His lega-
cy leaves us with much to contemplate as
the new Jordanian leadership comes to
Affirmative action
policies should
be changed
Fortunately, due to recent Supreme
Court decisions and university law suits,
many University students have eagerly
come forward to voice either their unwaver-
ing support of, or extreme opposition to,
affirmative action.
I use the term "fortunately" because it's
always valuable to learn something about
the diverse ideology of the people that
you're around all year. Unfortunately, how-
ever, something disturbing strikes me about
most of the affirmative action literature and
speakers that I've encountered on this cam-
pus. Many people who regularly address the
topic of affirmative action in their articles
and speeches seem to neglect the opposing
view's good points entirely.
It seems to me that affirmative action, at
least the way it's applied in most institu-
ions, is wrong. University admissions poli-
cies clearly favor some applicants over oth-
ers solely on the basis of skin color, and in
doing so commit an injustice against non-
minority students. By encouraging these
policies, we are advocating a form of
racism. However, despite these views, I am
very much opposed to simply abolishing the
institution of affirmative action.
This is because while our current appli-
cation of affirmative action is wrong, it
would be more wrong to ban its institution
Affirmative action currently harms
some non-minority students, but removing
it would cause a greater degree of harm, as
it would prove detrimental to not only
minority students, but to society asa whole.
Banning affirmative action means a dra-
matic decline in minority enrollment in
most universities, which in turn means
University students will have less exposure
to and less awareness of differing racial
groups. In this type of atmosphere, in which
students would have little direct experience
to offset untrue dehumanizing stereotypes
about minorities, pervasive racist attitudes
would likely flourish. And some of history's

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T H 5 hoO A A



amw. ,

greatest moral atrocities should enlighten us
as to the possible outcomes of these atti-
So it seems that there are problems with
our current application of affirmative
action, but there are also problems with
simply removing those policies. So instead
of ignoring one problem in favor of the
other, I suggest we search for solutions that
address both problems.
One article from a popular journal, for
example, suggested that the main disparity
between minority and non-minority stu-
dents was in their SAT and ACT scores. The
article stated that according to recent stud-
ies, those test scores do not effectively pre-
dict the performance of students in college,
and they provide even less insight into the
potential occupational success of a student.
The article advocated either abolishing
those test scores altogether, or placing con-
siderably less weight on them as factors in
the college admissions process.
Perhsaps if admissions committees placed
more emphasis on other factors such as lead-
ership positions, volunteer efforts or other
aspects of an applicant's background that indi-
cate motivation and a dedication to excel-
lence, there would likely be less of a need -
and maybe no need at all - for affirmative
action. Obviously, this suggestion may not be
feasible for admissions officers, but it's defi-
nitely a start to addressing both sides of the
affirmative action controversy.
Reasons Notre
Dame did not join
the Big Ten
So Notre Dame has declined an invitation
to enter the Big Ten. Originally, I was a big
supporter of the Irish joining the best colle-
giate football conference in the country.
However, my opinions have since changed.
Call it bitterness if you must; I simply
call it "wising up." The reasons given for
Notre Dame remaining independent in foot-
ball were based on three core characteristics
- Catholic, private and independent.
I donot feel that these are the true rea-
sons as to why Notre Dame will not become
the newest team in the Big Ten.
I now give you the five true reasons that
the Irish shied away from joining the Big Ten:
5. Fear of a possible schedule including
Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and
Michigan State.
4. A clause in the contract stated that in

order to join the Big Ten, Notre Dame first
has to ban that stupid dancing leprechals
from all football games.
3. In the Big Ten, skirts (or "kilts" as tle
Irish call them) are reserved for female stu-
dents only. ,
2. As an independent, their fight song
remains tops among independent schools.
In the Big Ten, it would be second fiddle to
"The Victors."
1. No one wants to be the red-headed lit
tle brother in a family with 11 older,
stronger brothers.
(Note: I myself am a red-headed Catholic)
Gun manufacturer
lawsuits are
I am writing in response to the Daily's
Feb. 9 editorial "Obstruction of justice*
The logic behind suing gun makers is
flawed. There is no possible way that a man-
ufacturer of a product can be held liable for
its use by others. Ford Motor Company
would now be liable for every incident of
road rage. Why not make car manufacturers
pay for accidents? Why not make Louisville
Slugger pay for every assault with a bat?
Reality is that gun manufacturers are not
as large as tobacco corporations and these
law suits intend to destroy all domestic
manufacturers of firearms with legal feesS
and large settlements.
Second, the Daily failed to mention t&e
benefits of firearms to society. It was stated
that $3 billion is spent on medical costs due~ra
firearms. According to Prof. John Lott of Ott
University of Chicago, in the 31 states tit;
allow concealed handguns, violent crime; a
less likely to occur. This reduction in violsjt.
crime saves at least $6.214 billion in thd:
states. The $3 billion is more than off set. -
Also, it was stated that 34,000 deatlh
occur annually from firearms, yet abdul
half of that number are suicides. Suicidal
are tragic, but it is misleading to throwthii
number in with violent crime. -
All corporations deserve immunity froan'
lawsuits like this. The next step will be su
on owners of stolen cars because they allowed
their car to be stolen and used in a high spy,
chase. These lawsuits go after the wrong party.
Maybe the entire nation of China should :
sued - for inventing gun powder. *




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