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March 15, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-15

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 15, 1999

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A week of self indulgence with Georgia on my mind

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

Editor in Chief
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.

Cdisis averted

GEO settlement benefits all students

A hh, Spring Break. A time of huge
importance to the average college stu-
dent. We work, plan, shuffle and prioritize
sometimes up to a year in advance to get the
most out of this week. Papers are turned in,
midterms are done
with and it is time to
get away.
Some students go
home for break. Kick
back, hang out with
the family, talk to old
friends, eat some real
food for a change
(because you can only
subsist on Top Ramen }
and Labatt's for so
long) and generally do
nothing but relax. Branden
Others use this week Sanz
as the perfect oppor- D
tuniy to go some-
place warm and teHm r
sunny, where the
phrases "sleet," "wind-chill factor" and
"snowmobile accident" are heard about as
often as "Muslim keg party."
A few of us do nothing and just stick
around Ann Arbor, a category that I fell into
myself this year for a number of reasons. At
first I was kind of depressed about this, but
this week has turned out absolutely wonder-
ful. It was nice to spend a week without any
of the worries that make being a college stu-
dent so exciting.
I'm not talking about late-night, caffeine-
buzzed study sessions, putting up with the
irritating know-it-all in your history class,
schmoozing your GSI to get a better partici-
pation grade or any of that stuff. I mean the
little things. Hectic work schedules, scram-
bling to find a parking spot, financial wor-
ries, housemate woes and all sorts of other
things that are byproducts of the pursuit of

higher education can really wear you down.
I never realized how much fun it can be to
just work, eat, sleep, hit the gym and basi-
cally do my best three-toed sloth imitation
for a whole week. No waiting for hours to get
a computer in Angell Hall; no Diag preach-
ers telling me why I was going to Hell (as if
I didn't already know); no housemates steal-
ing my milk; no one from the Coalition To
Irritate As Many People As Much As
Possible By Any Means Necessary or other
such group accosting me or any of the vari-
ous other things that manage to annoy me on
a regular basis.
It was actually nice to not read the Daily
(or any other newspaper) for a change.
Granted, I like to stay up on current events as
much as the next guy, but I can only read so
many articles trying to explain why our bas-
ketball team is getting slaughtered or how I
have been oppressing someone for years
without ever knowing it. It was great to not
have to pretend that I give a rat's ass about
Monicagate, the AIDS rate in Zaire or any-
thing else that is absolutely meaningless in
my life.
So how did I get stuck in here for break?
Well, the answer to that is twofold. The first
part was the fact that my finances were not
exactly overflowing (actually, I was dirt
poor). I suppose I could have begged, bor-
rowed, put my car in hock or somehow else
managed to pay for a trip, but then factor two
- conscious choice - kicked in.
The thought of going to Florida or Mexico
and sucking up UV rays and tequila in
approximately equal proportions sounded
pretty appealing at first, but then I really
considered it. Did the thought of going out
partying and seeing the same uncoordinated
white girls with fake tans that I can see every
week at Rick's, watching as they try (unsuc-
cessfully) to shake their booties to salsafied
beats and rubbing up on a bunch of Lorenzo

Lamas clones named "Chaz" with long, oily
hair (those of you who have been to Ft.
Lauderdale, you know what I'm talking
about) tickle my fancy?
No, not really. That's just not my idea of a
fun getaway. I want hordes of people of
every type imaginable getting stewed and
writhing about in orgiastic frenzy. I want to
see white people, black people, college stu-
dents, soldiers, sailors, stock brokers, house-
wives and every other demographic conceiv-
able in a raging, blowout drunkfest the likes
of which would make Caligula blush and
Dionysus smile.
Now, Mardi Gras or Carnival would cer-
tainly fit this bill. However, the fascists that
put our schedules together (I suspect Maureen
Hartford had a hand in it) always manage to
schedule midterms the week of pre-Lent fes-
tivities, so what's a poor guy to do? Take
heart, gentle reader, there is a solution.
You see, there is a little city down on the
coast of Georgia named Savannah yes, the
very same Savannah of Johnny Mercer and
"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"
fame that throws the second-largest St.
Patrick's Day festival in the nation every
year. And, as someone who used to live in
Savannah, I can tell you that it is CRAZY.
We're talking a landscape of beaches,
palm trees, magnolias and Spanish moss
invaded by 400,000 hammered yahoos of all
makes in models with bars that stay open
until 4 a.m. and no open-container laws.
Now that is what I call a fun getaway.
So don't cry for me, Ann Arbor. No I did-
n't go anywhere for spring break, but this
weekend-when you're back at the daily grind
wearing scarves and ski jackets, I'll be in
shorts and Tevas, swimming in a sea of green
Erin Go Bragh,
- Branden Sanz can be reached
over e-mail at hammerhead@umich.edu.


T he threat of indefinitely disrupting
undergraduate education no longer
looms over Ann Arbor. After months of
negotiations with stubborn University offi-
cials, the Graduate Employees Organization
agreed to a new three-year contract. While
the wage increases in the new contract are
significantly lower than those GEO origi-
nally requested, the avoidance of a strike
will benefit everyone.
GEO, Nyhich represents more than 1,600
Graduate Student Instructors and employees,
originally asked for a 37-percent wage
increase. The University's negotiating team
deemed that request unreasonable, and GEO
lowered its proposal to 27 percent, nine per-
cent and six percent over the past few months.
During that time, the stalwart University kept
its proposed increase at 2.5 percent, or the
average faculty salary increase.
GEO leaders rightfully claimed that it
would be difficult to live in Ann Arbor with
a 2.5-percent annual salary increase,
because the city has an extraordinarily high
cost of living. Rent in Ann Arbor often con-
sumes much more than half of graduate stu-
dents' salaries. The initial 37 percent
increase would have brought graduate stu-
dents' salaries closer to a living wage. But
the University remained unwavering
throughout the entire process.
Paying graduate students a reasonable
salary is in everyone's best interests -
including the administration. Top-notch grad-
uate students will be reluctant to attend a uni-
versity that underpays its students. Academia
is a competitive field - the reputations of
programs often rest upon the quality of their
graduate students. The University, by

attempting to stunt salary growth, is damag-
ing the quality of academic programs.
During the negotiations, the University's
unwillingness to compromise has been
incredibly detrimental to undergraduate edu-
cation. While GEO made many concessions,
the University didn't budge. This forced GEO
to hold a one-and-a-half-day walkout last
week, cancelling many classes Wednesday
and Thursday. GEO members did not want to
walk out, but it was the only way to send a
strong message to the University.
The University should not have allowed
the process to reach the point of a walkout.
University negotiators should have known
a walkout was inevitable without conces-
sions. The administration demonstrated it is
more concerned with protecting its money
than saving undergraduate education.
The settlement includes minimum salary
increases of 4.5 percent in the first year, 3.5
percent in the second year and 2.5 percent in
the third year. This will allow salaries to meet
inflation increases, but not much more. These
increases will not have much impact on the
standard of living for the University's gradu-
ate students. GEO, however, must be com-
mended for being reasonable and willing to
compromise. Unlike the University adminis-
tration, GEO bargaining team members real-
ized the danger of interrupting undergraduate
The graduate students' contract will
expire in three years. Hopefully, University
officials will be more sympathetic to the
needs of graduate students and the educa-
tion of undergraduate students. Pushing
GEO to the brink of striking is a sloppy and
unacceptable way of negotiating.


Captain should not be accountable for deaths

I just read the Daily's editorial entitled,
"Flying Blind" (3/9/99) and cannot help but
throw in my two cents. This article, like
many others, asserts that justice was robbed
and that the military jury "looked after one
of its own.' The Daily states that the United
States made a mistake by not holding
Captain James Ashby accountable for his
actions. Let me offer an alternative view-
point. I think Ashby should not be held
accountable. To blame Ashby is simply
scapegoating, like finding someone guilty
of a murder because it is convenient.
Everyone feels better when they can point
fingers and say, "Yes, he did it!" We think,
"If we punish the person or put him or her
in jail, the act will not happen again
because we have gotten rid of the problem."
This is a naive and simplistic view. I also
believe in this case it is wrong.
In the field of human factors, scientists
and engineers don't simply stop when the
cause of an accident is attributed to "human
error." They ask "Why?" "Why did the
individual act in the way he or she did?"
"Did the person have all of the information
and tools necessary to make correct deci-
sions?" "Did he or she receive sufficient
training?" "Was he or she given any misin-
formation?" "Was he or she working under
stress or under extremely high (or low)
All of these factors contribute to correct

and incorrect decisions. I believe there
were many factors that contributed to the
unfortunate and tragic death of those 20
skiers in Cavalese, Italy, last year. First,
Captain Ashby and his crew were not prop-
erly prepared for this mission. Specifically,
they were not given maps that indicated the
gondola cables that were strung out in that
valley. Their map was outdated and provid-
ed incorrect information on which basis
Ashby made incorrect decisions. Second,
the aircraft Ashby was flying was not fully
functioning. Specifically, the altimeter
appeared to be malfunctioning and did not
provide consistent, accurate readings.
Without this information, the pilot resorted
to other cues to provide- altitude informa-
tion, specifically he used the natural land-
scape of the valley to give an indication as
to where he was. But Ashby was given mis-
information from a visual illusion. This
illusion did not provide Ashby with the nec-
essary information and feedback to make
an accurate assessient as to how low he
was flying at the critical moment.
Some reports also indicate that Ashby
had his eyes off the forward view seconds
before the crash'in order to look at the map
which was strapped to his navigator's leg,
next to him. Thus, in short, there were mul-
tiple factors that contributed to the acci-
dent. To say that Ashby was simply flying
too low and too fast is too easy of an expla-

nation and does not provide solutions.
Consider this: The U.S. military is to
blame. But don't just stop at blame. Blame
doesn't prevent accidents. Remedy the
problem - change military procedures, for
example. Make sure that pilots are provid-
ed with up-to-date maps and specific infor-
mation regarding outlawed altitudes and
speeds. Even go so far as to explain why
there are limits (it may help pilots remem-
ber why they should or should not do some-
thing). Make sure that aircraft are also
properly functioning (a la altimeter). When
a motorist runs out of gas due to a faulty
gas gauge, do you blame the motorist?
There are probably several other proce-
dures that could be improved to increase
the safety of military training flights, but
that is for another time.
It was tragic what happened in Cavalese,
Italy, a year ago. But don't blame the pilot.
Think harder. Think further. What can be done
to ensure that this type of accident does not
happen again? What information did the pilot
need (but did not have or was misguided) in
order to have avoided the cable in the first
place? When you have determined this, you
are on your way to ensuring that the accident
does not happen again.
- This viewpoint was written by
University alumnus Stephen Reinach,
who can be reached over e-mail at
sreinach@foster-miller com.

Remnant of racism
Alabama must remove unjust law


The old South has been fading away
steadily, but reformers in Alabama are
still struggling to erase the last overt ves-
tiges of segregation and racial intolerance
from the legal books. The Alabama House
of Representatives is prepared to vote on a
bill that would strike wording from the
state's constitution prohibiting interracial
marriages. If the bill passes, it will move on
to the state senate and then finally go on to
a statewide vote for final approval, since the
bill would amend Alabama's constitution. If
the measure is passed, Alabama will no
longer be the only state in the union that
continues to have such a law.
While the vote has no real legal impact
- interracial marriages have been permis-
sible throughout the United States since the
Supreme Court struck down Virginia's pro-
hibition of them in 1967 - formal removal
of the law would certainly have symbolic
The amendment's future looks secure.
Polls indicate wide support for the amend-
ment, with 63 percent of the those respond-
ing favoring a lift on the ban, 26 percent
opposing it and 10 percent unsure or giving
no reply. Only last year a similar proposal
died in committee. The reception of the
measure by both lawmakers and the public
can be viewed as both a reflection of the
extent of the impact the civil rights move-
ment has made - or as a prime example of
just how hard ingrained traditions die. But
what is certain is that some sort of progress
towards narrowing the racial divide has
been made.
Despite the abundance of racism both bla-

effects may actually come out of a referendum
validating interracial marriage; nevertheless,
events such as this are still historical mile-
stones in the sense that they prove progres-
siveness has won its victories in the south.
The importance of symbolic gestures
should not be ignored. But it is consider-
ably worse to naively give such actions
more than they are due. Racial tension
remains sadly ever present throughout the
United States. Removing a law will not
close the racial rifts torn open by the
recent dragging murder of James Byrd Jr.
in Jasper, Texas, or the death of Amadou
Diallo, who was unarmed and shot at 41
times by police officers in New York City.
Clearly, there remains a lot of room for
Reactions to the bill certainly give
insight into how far American attitudes
have come in recent decades - and how
much farther they still have to go. If polls
are correct, 26 percent of Alabama, hardly a
negligible number of people, still oppose
interracial marriage. But some progress is
being made. Perhaps ten or possibly even
five years ago putting a proposal like the
one now before Alabama's House of
Representatives would have been out of the
At the turn of the millennium, every
state's formal validation of a right that
should always have been recognized is
cause to feel a little bittersweet. Official
approval of interracial marriage is both an
important stride towards racial tolerance
and simultaneously discouraging. The
belatedness of the proposed bill serves as
a reminder of the drlur aocpntanic of


IFS is a reliable way
to store files
ITD made a very wise decision in
upgrading the computers in Angell Hall
to Macs without floppy disk drives. This
will be a blessing in disguise to students
who are complaining about the lack of
disk drives. The undeniable fact is that
floppy disks are very unreliable.
Countless students have lost hours of
work because they only saved to a disk,
only to find the disk damaged and
unreadable. ITD is making efforts to edu-
cate students about using their IFS space.
Students may not think they like the
change, but by learning to save to a reli-
able place (IFS), students will experience
muchrless data loss and heartache in the
long run.
Groesbeck had an
extraordinary 'love
of life'
Chris Groesbeck was an extraordinar-
ily unique and kind person. He was a true

- il
r i-


He packed more living into his tragi-
cally short 22 years than most people
ever will.
Once, when Chris found a great deal
on tickets to Chicago, he got all eager
and excited, and then sat around the
whole afternoon just thinking of an
excuse to go to Chicago so he could use
That was the way his mind worked.
He never understood how people could
just lie around and waste their lives when
there was so much to see out there.
He was also easily the most entertain-
ing person you'd ever meet. He had an
incredible knack for innocently falling

ITD should buy
more convenient
disk drives
I would just like to make a suggestion to
the Information Technology Division about
the 3.5-inch disk drive shortage. Instead of
wasting a lot of money on outdated 3.5-inch
disk drives, ITD should buy external 3.5-
inch LS120 drives. This will allow students
to use the high density and low density
disks they are comfortable with but will
nkn,,- nllnw t, he icpc. f 1?-m ,ahv ir ALcs all

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