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March 11, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-11

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4A -- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 11, 1999

Ugjz A{{citgy &Qi

Fighting darkness and searching for answers in the winter storm

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

"There are those of us who live in rooms of
experience that we can never enter"
- John Steinbeck
Have you ever lived above a murder-sui-
cide? Until this past Friday, I never had.
It would seem that it is hard to have feelings
for the deaths of two
people you never
knew, but now, in col-
lege, as we live on the
edges of beginning,
life has begun to
appear increasingly
short and taken on
deeper personal mean-
ing.

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.

Rocky transition
Lack of disk drives is inconvenient

My only real tie to
the recent murder
involving Chris
Groesbeck and
Natasha Qureshi is the
fact that I live in the
apartment above where
the acts of apparent
suicide/murder were

Michael
Nagrant
Sfer

We share so many common good things, that I
don't find it hard to believe that the darkness
in each of us is just buried deeper.
On occasions, I would sometimes hear
Natasha sing and wake me up in the mornings
by playing Sarah McLachlan or Tori Amos,
and I used to think how we had musical choic-
es in common. My friend who was in Toronto
with her the weekend before she bought the
gun, said Natasha was in a good mood and
bought some "funky new shoes." Someone
below me plays violin, they used to practice
almost everyday, maybe it was Chris, maybe
the next door neighbors? It's hard to tell in this
place, but I haven't heard it since.
I play guitar and I thought of dropping by
one day to ask about the violin, maybe even
form a band, passing thoughts that I never
acted upon.
These are the common moments I shared.
I know Ann Arbor can sometimes be a cold
place. People often don't extend themselves
beyond their own circle of friends. I had
always heard rumors of competition and
indifference among students, but I never
thought they were true. We all know the Diag
trudge and how the rule is to keep your head
bowed as you pass someone. We do not unite
under our differences well. People form stu-
dent groups like they're going out of style.
We have the Indian Pre-Med tree hugger
club, and they don't coordinate events with
the white California surfer save the whales
coalition. Even opinion columnists on this
campus reinforce stereotypes and draw divi-
sions among us, as noted by all the east
coast/Greek bashing that pops up in our
columns. In my apartment building, I only
know two people by first name and that
includes my roommate. I suppose you could
relegate that to me being anti-social, but I
genuinely try to reach out and meet people,
and I found it odd that I have never even seen
my next door neighbors. So maybe it was a

case of being in an uncaring environment in
the middle of snowstorms, with no hope and W
certainly no interaction with neighbors why
this happened. Maybe not.
Since the AAPD is treating this as a murder
suicide and a domestic dispute, in many of out
own minds we breathe a sigh of relief that it
was not a psychopath on the loose. I told my
roommate when the cops showed up that I
started thinking about how Thursday night I
locked our door for the first time in months. I
joked that maybe a serial killer was too tired to
walk up the extra flight of stairs to our apart-
ment. These of course were not nice things to
say, and while it would have been scary with a
maniac on the loose, it would have been easier
to write it all off as some chemical imbalance,
some guy who has a library card at the local
porn shop or who wears his mother's panties.
It would have been easier, because it's too hard
to figure out what drove one of our own class-
mates to this, and it would eradicate the idea
that we are susceptible in our own lives. This
act may still be a chemical imbalance, or even
a response to mental or physical abuse (I say
this only to bring a point and not to imply any
conclusions), but the fact is we are the age
group that never gets sick or dies, and we are
not killers. Yet we are fragile, inside us lies the
impulses and biological make-up to do these
things.
The only thing I can conclude is that while
there are those of us who live in rooms of
experience that we can't understand, we as
neighbors, friends, family and classmates
who live above and around these rooms canl
fall into them ourselves. It may not have
made a difference in this case, but if we try
harder to listen, extend ourselves and reach
out to one another while we live in Ann
Arbor, maybe we can keep the darkness away
for awhile.
- Michael Nagrant can be reached over
e-mail at mjnagranaumich.edua

out with the old, andin with the new. At
Angell Hall the old was moved out just
a bit too quickly. During spring break, the
Information Technology Division staff
installed all new Macintosh computers in the
Angell Hall Computing Site, wlich are now
built without disk drives.
Apple Computers no longer manufactures
computers with floppy disk drives, as the
company believes the use of disks for saving
documents is becoming obsolete. Students
must now look into alternative methods of file
storage, such as the University's Institutional
File System Network, which allocates each
student a private file directory accessible from
any on-campus computer.
While the University should be commend-
ed for its efforts to keep its computer network
up to date with various technological
advances, students should have been warned
about the changes well before the break. A
transition period to allow students to access
their files saved on disks and transfer them to
their IFS spaces would have been helpful. The
abrupt changes and subsequent complaints
and glitches are a direct result of a lack of
advanced planning and trouble-shooting.
IFS is one of the University's best kept
secrets. Many students do not know about it,
and if they do, they do not know how to
access it. ITD is in the process of putting
together a program to introduce students to
IFS. In addition, ITD has ordered one exter-
nal disk drive for every three Macintosh
co mputers in each of the campus sites. While
this is a step in the right direction, it still has
the potential for creating chaos during
heightened busy computing times such as
midterms and finals. Having fewer disk dri-
ves than computers likely will slow down the

computing process significantly.
Documents saved on IFS are only accessi-
ble from computers that are linked to the
University system, which requires a computer
with at least eight megabytes of RAM, a
Hayes Compatible Modem - 9600 bps or
faster - and an Internet Access Kit. Many
students with computers in their homes use
older, often discontinued models. Those stu-
dents frequently save their work on disks and
bring them to a University computing site to
print out the documents.
A good way to familiarize students early
on with the new system would be to dedicate
time during orientation to accessing and
using IFS. Once students start using disks, it
is difficult to introduce an entirely different
process. Jose-Marie Griffiths, the
University's Chief Information Officer, said
documentation on accessing the system will
be available for those unfamiliar with the
process.
If students are being asked to rely on the
University's computer system, they should
not have to worry about technical glitches
such as the inability to open a file. In antici-
pation of unreliability, the equipment and
software was recently upgraded to improve
IFS quality.
Despite many complaints due to the lack
of warning regarding the changes, it seems
that ITD is making a valiant effort to mend
problems and work with the best interest of
students in mind. New and unfamiliar equip-
ment is always difficult to work with at first,
especially when problems are unanticipated.
But with a few important changes, the new
computers can provide a better working
atmosphere for students with faster access
and more up-to-date technology.

committed. Yet, they are mirrors for our age
group: young, intelligent and in a bad relation-
ship. They probably faced similar pressures on
a daily basis that we do: doing badly on exams,
breaking up and trying to stay warm in
Michigan.
So what drives one of our own to kill a
friend, and then herself? Maybe it's a dark side
of the human condition that lurks in all of us.
It's a darkness I hope none of us ever knows.
I'm a 21-year-old white kid from Shelby Twp.,
which is right next to Chris and Natasha's
hometown of Sterling Heights. Maybe I'm
naive, but I don't even know where to get a
gun, and I can't think of a problem that would
make me want to. Yet, apparently Natasha did
and I can't even begin to understand why, but
I also can't pass the responsibility and deny the
fact that this could have happened to any of us.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The violent
death of Billy Jack Gaither in
Sylacauga, Ala., drives the significance
of America's social divisions deeper into
the hearts and minds.of all compassion-
ate people.
Here is another person murdered in a
horrifying, cold-blooded fashion -
beaten to death and then burned on top
of a pile of old tires. Here is another per-
son whose life was cut short because of
a hatred that defies all logic and under-
standing, which cannot be quantified or
reasoned away, which can savagely pos-
sess a human being with murderous and
uncontrollable rage.
Gaither is dead at 34 because he was
gay, and the fact that this death is not at
all unusual in our violent times should
send chills down all of our spines.
But more chilling than the facts of
Gaither'sdeath as if anything could
be more scary than that - is the fright-
ening picture it offers of how hard it is
to be gay in the rural South. By all
accounts Billy Jack led an exemplary

life, devoting himself to the care of his
parents and faithfully participating in
church activities. His death, while dev-
astating to those who knew him, came as
no surprise to other gay men from his
town.
It seems that no gay man in
Sylacauga can be open about his sexual
orientation.
Many take the first opportunity they
find to move to different cities. Even in
Birmingham, one of Alabama's few
urban centers, gay men cannot hold
hands in public for fear of violence.
The evidence gleaned from anony-
mous interviews with fearful gay men
points to an unavoidable conclusion -
even in this enlightened age and in this
bastion of democracy and equality, there
are parts of the United States where
people are dying for no understandable
reason.
Ofcourse, this should come as no
surprise. Homophobia, racism and hate
are difficult scars to erase from the
American landscape. The South is cer-
THOMAS KuLJuRGIs

tainly not the only place in America
where people are killed because they are
gay - Laramie, Wy., comes to mind.
There is not just one place where people
are killed because they are black. Jasper,
Texas, is simply a recent setting for
racism gone violent.
No place is safe from bigotry and the
brutality that it can inspire, But in
remembering Gaither, we can see that
the quest for peace and harmony in
America is, perhaps, even further from
realization than anyone imagined.
In the wake of other murders -
Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr.,
among others - it may not come as a
total surprise that Gaither is dead. But it
bears repeating again and again, until"
the words crack through the hardened-:W
exteriors of those who would kill with-
out reason - a man is dead, and that is
a national tragedy.
- This editorial was published by
the Brown Daily Herald, Brown
University's student
newspaper, on Monday
TENTATIVELY SPEAKINC

Better understanding
Program puts human face on welfare

HKE

z ! 1'\A l P^. t

1lv-r. . -r a

- - -

Michigan is the 24th state to participate
in an innovative program that brings
state legislators and welfare recipients togeth-
er. The "Walk a Mile" project, sponsored by
the Michigan League for Human Services,
will pair more than 65 Michigan legislators
with families on the welfare rolls.
During the month-long program, welfare
recipients will meet with legislators and
accompany them as they perform their duties
in Lansing. At another time during the
month, legislators will participate in an
activity their appointed family performs reg-
ularly. As part of the program, some legisla-.
tors will also live on food stamps for a
month. Although the program is aimed at
legislators, many other community leaders
throughout the state will also be participat-
ing in "Walk a Mile."
The goal of the two-year-old program is to
dispel any mutually held stereotypes many
legislators and welfare recipients have toward
each other. Given the prevalence of misinfor-
mation, it is not easy to represent the true state
of affairs for welfare with figures and
research. When poverty is given a human
face, legislators can make better informed
policy decisions.
Distrust towards the beneficiaries of public
assistance has led to several unnecessary mea-
sures passed on the part of the state legisla-

ture. State Sen. David Jaye (R-Macomb) once
sponsored a bill that would give welfare recip-
ients a one-way bus ticket out of Michigan.
Despite an overflow of evidence suggesting
that drug testing for welfare recipients is both
unfair and inefficient, drug testing remains
mandatory in Michigan.
An exchange will also likely benefit many
welfare recipients who themselves hold a
great deal of animosity towards lawmakers.
Both sides stand to learn much from each
other. Unfortunately, the inherent problem
with the "Walk a Mile" program is that only
those who are already sympathetic to the
plight of needy families are likely to partici-
pate. While it can only be a good thing for leg-
islators to interact with all of their con-
stituents, the program would be far more suc-
cessful if all senators participated.
The future of the "Walk a Mile" program
in Michigan is up in the air, pending feedback
from participants. Reviews will determine
how frequently the program will take place.
Hopefully, the program will deliver on its
promises and more lawmakers will feel com-
pelled to participate in future exchanges. Any
attempt to dispel misconceptions, especially
misconceptions that shape policy, ought to be
applauded. Only good can arise out of an ini-
tiative that educates the individuals who draft
Michigan's welfare laws.

Guns are the cause
of many violent
crimes
TO THE DAILY:
This letter is in response to John
Tomsho's March 9 letter, "Firearms have
role in society." Tomsho stated that guns
are needed in our society because the
threat of being attacked, beaten, robbed,
raped and killed for no reason makes it
necessary for citizens to arm and defend
themselves with guns. Tomsho sees guns
as a product of an uncivilized society,
when in reality guns are a major reason
for our society being "uncivilized."
Tomsho states that he needs a gun in
order to protect himself from being
robbed, raped and killed. But what
Tomsho fails to realize or acknowledge is
that many robberies, rapes and murders
are committed with guns!
It is safe to assume that the citizens of
England, which has stricter gun control
laws than the United States, have the sim-
ilar fears of being a victim of a random
act of violence, but somehow they man-
age to continue on with their daily lives
without the security and happiness of a
warm gun in their possession.
Tomsho adds to his argument by list-
ing the positive qualities of guns, such as
its use as a tool of parental bonding and
recreation. Tomsho even goes as far to
say that guns have been the source of
some of the most enjoyable experiences
of his life. Tomsho ignores the fact that
guns have also been the source of some
of the most heart wrenching and saddest
experiences of other people's lives.
Countless murders and crimes resulting
frnm the easv accesihility of auns is a

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GEO demands are
unreasonable
TO THE DAILY:
I would like to point out a few issues per-
taining to the University-Graduate
Employees Organization fiasco that I have
not seen discussed but may influence which
side of the battle you support.
First, we should look at the current state
of compensation Graduate Student
Instructors receive. They get a nice health
plan (some say" it is better than the faculty
health plan), they get a full tuition waver and
they get a paycheck that GEO claims is near-
ly sufficient for housing, food, books and
whatever GSIs do for entertainment. GSIs get
all of this for working, at most, half the hours
of a tenured professor. So, if a professor
works 40 hours a week (yeah, right), a GSI
works at most 20 hours. How many under-
graduates out there pay for tuition, housing,
health care and food without huge loans or
grants byoArking essthan 20nhonrs aweek?

the GSIs' health plan. What it boils down tO
is the undergrads funding the GSIs' educa=
tion and paycheck. Any pay hike or contract
additions the GSIs get will come directl9
from the pockets of the undergrads in the
form of tuition hikes.
Third, we should look at the demands
GEO is making. Demand 1: They want a
percent pay hike for the next three year
even though the faculty the last few years had
gotten a raise of between 3 and 5 percent,
and a 9-percent raise for a teacher every year
is unheard of in the real world.
Demand 2: They want the categories
which determine how many hours they work
retooled so that they will be able to wAr
fewer hours but receive the same payment.
Demand 3: They want prospective
International GSIs who are undergoing
training period to get a larger stipend while
they are here, even though they are not yet
employees of the University and are not
members of GEO.
I think it is pretty obvious from thif
examination who the undergraduates shouli
he ..iin.n;rina myonninnn rCS ar'

SUPPORT EO

yesterday, numerous classes were can-
celled due to the Graduate Employees
Organization's walk out. Today, more class-
es will be cancelled as a half-day walkout

""-

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