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March 17, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-17

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 17, 1999

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An elegy for graduation and plans for a barbecue

r

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

W hen other people tell you about
their college days, it always sounds
like a lot more fun than you're having, or

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority offthe
Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect
the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

had in some cases.
The '50s and early
sweater and panty
raid spirit; eating
goldfish and cram-
ming into phone
booths. From there
until the end of the
'70s was the heyday
of college hedonism,
ask anyone who can
still remember back
that far. That brings
us to the '80s and
'90s, where coke and
booze were kings,
respectively.
Maybe it's just
inevitable gradua-
tion nostalgia. In
that case, I won't

'60s had the varsity

A simple plan
'U' must follow SOLE's lead

James
Miller
Tap

became apparent the Athletic
Department's priority was the donor alum-
ni and not the loyal student fans, my
desire waned further. Now the stadium is
dry, heavily policed, overcrowded and
strangled by a vile yellow halo that
dances, I hope, through Tom Goss' night-
mares like Jacob Marley with a hand gun.
I never got written up by an RA while I
lived in the dorms. Not that it would have
been the most fun thing at the time, but
there's something to be said for a little
punishment to make an 18 year old feel
like an outlaw. This isn't to say that I did-
n't do anything during that time that the
RAs would have been interested in, or the
state police for that matter. There just isn't
any evidence of my rebellion. No great
story about getting caught with a cigar
and bottle of Wild Turkey in the shower. A
battle scar or two would have been nice.
I never took a Shakespeare class. In
fact, for a literature major, I read few
"classic" texts. This is not a bad thing,
necessarily. There is nothing wrong with
the books I read. It just seems that some-
one who majored in literature in college
should be able to pour forth with quotes at
will; tailored to the situation and said with
suddenly conjured emotion.
To be honest, one of the few direct quo-
tations I can remember verbatim is from
Kafka: "All family interaction requires the
suppression of nausea." It may be applica-
ble to lots of situations, but it won't make
you respected among the people who hear
it, read: your family. They will just think
you're an asshole.
Tell you what: I'm not going to whine
about it, make an Ashley's reference and
quote a poem at the end of this piece
(since I've already demonstrated that I
can't.)

Better than that: I have a plan. .1
How about a barbecue? Even though
the cruel patron saint of the midwest has
seen fit to dump snow on us after spring
break, there is warm weather coming.
Trust me.
I'm thinking we should have it in
Regents Plaza, in front of the Fleming
Administration Building. Nice concrete
flooring eliminates the risk of fire, plus
the trees and landscaping provide a nice
setting.
Throw in the Cube for school spirit.
As for the guests, apart from my
friends, there are certain members of the
high command that have to attend.
President Lee, this means you.
With all the stress of the affirmative
action lawsuits and GEO squabbles I thinky
it's time to kick back and spend some time
with members of the student body who
don't hate you, or who don't kiss your ass
and see you as a letter of recommendation
with a Beatles haircut. I'm not mentioning
any names here, but I'm sure you could.
I know you read the love letter last year,
admiral, and I know you read the Daily most
days, so I'll assume your reading this. There
will be other staff and faculty members there:
Lloyd Carr and the rock star Profs. Ralph
Williams and Sidney Fine. But you can bring
whoever you want. Bring the missus.
If you're too busy, we can bring a plate
up to your office. I'll even sneak a beer up
there if you promise DPS won't grease me
at the door.
You know this is a good idea. Send me
from my undergraduate career with the
memories of success, and you and the rest
of the officers can blow off some steard
over coals and beers. I'll be in touch.
-James Miller can be reached over e
mail at jamespm@umich.edu.
SoME~ KNUCKLEHE ADS

T he issue of sweatshop labor was
again cast into the spotlight after
Friday's mass rally on the Diag and march
on the Fleming Administration Building.
Led by Students Organizing for Labor
and Economic Equality, concerned stu-
dents continued to pressure the
University to ensure that a more stringent
code be adopted by the Collegiate
Licensing Company. Protesters insist the
code be modified to include two cardinal
objectives - full disclosure to the public
of factory locations and owners and a liv-
ing wage requirement.
Since the University has the highest
apparel sales among reporting institu-
tions, the University is viewed as a leader
in ending unfair labor practices in the
collegiate apparel industry - several
other institutions are watching the
University and expecting to set a prece-
dent. Thus, SOLE's proposals are certain-
ly reasonable and their efforts commend-
able.
The power of public opinion to evoke
positive change can be seen clearly in the
case of Nike. In last Friday's edition of
The New York Times, Dara O'Rourke, the
persistent Nike critic who in November
1997 made public a damning internal
report about a factory in Vietnam, praised
Nike for its improvements in labor condi-
tions. Nike also agreed to let him visit
any of its 37 footwear factories in Asia to
prove that it has cleaned up its act. A

human rights group called Global
Exchange, historically Nike's most. caus-
tic critic, applauded the company last
week "for its improving conditions and
for letting an outside monitor inspect the
factory."
Nike has reduced workers' hours,
raised the minimum age, significantly
curtailed the use of toxic substances to
equal or exceed the standards set by
OSHA. Putting its money where its
mouth is, Nike has terminated contracts
with eight factories in four different
countries that refused to meet its labor
standards.
This is proof that concerned citizens
have the power to improve conditions
across the globe, to continue the fight to
ensure rights for all people. Nonetheless,
the job is far from complete.
The activists should be commended
for their efforts in pressuring the
University to agree to full public disclo-
sure and a living wage requirement. The
University has an obligation to uphold
human rights. Still, they should not tar-
nish their noble aims by getting carried
away.
By giving companies the incentive to
hold themselves accountable, labor con-
ditions can be improved across the globe.
SOLE's efforts have put the University in
the national spotlight. With its high pro-
file, the University is urged to act quick-
ly and responsibly.

bore you with it. This is a fairly common
phenomenon: selective memory that is.
The further one gets from say, high
school, the fonder that person's memories
become, even if they were the most no-
date-havingest, wedgie-getting weenie in
the whole place. I assume the same kind
of insanity will visit me soon. I find
myself starting to feel warm and fuzzy
about my freshman days which, underage
and clueless, I hated at the time.
Still, I can't help but feel there are a few
things I never got around to doing here
that I wish I had.
I never went to a football game as a stu-
dent. Being from Ann Arbor, I've been to
them before, obviously. Part of it is that I
never moved fast enough on the season
ticket offer every spring. Then as it

SCOTT ROTHMAN

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Sky high
State should cut back on plane funding

G ov. John Engler is making a rare
decision in the interests of his con-
stituents, supporting a move that could
save $1 million annually. Engler's idea
comes after an internal audit review rec-
ommended the state scale back its cur-
rent fleet of executive commuter air-
crafts. With discussion and attention
focusing on the recently proposed state
budget, the governor's efforts to slash
lavish and unnecessary spending on air-
crafts should result in more money for
education.
s. Currently, the state's air fleet is made
up of 16 planes. Five planes are main-
tained by the state's Department of
Natural Resources for firefighting and
three are used by the Michigan State
Police. The remainder of the fleet is left
idle for most of the time, and many of
these planes carry no more than five pas-
sengers at a time.
The state also owns a plane specifical-
ly intended for aerial photography, which
is seldom used. The internal audit found
that at least six of the planes were used
during only three days in the 1997 fiscal
year and five or more planes were air-
borne just 22 days in that year. This is an
example of how taxpayers' money is
wasted by the state government. These
funds should be applied to initiatives, that
benefit the welfare of Michigan's citi-
zens.
During the recent National Governor's
Conference in Washington, D.C., Engler

and his aides flew out on a Friday and
returned late the following Tuesday -
times when commercial flights were
unavailable and much more expensive.
While such planes provide easier access
and allow administrators to avoid the
congested airports, these situations are
rare, and the planes are used infrequent-
ly.
Engler has not released a detailed plan
describing how he plans to cut back on
the planes. There have been arguments
about how many planes should be
reduced and whether all planes should be
replaced.
But whatever the final plan is, Engler
must cut back on the size of the state's
fleet of planes. Engler may need one or
two planes for official purposes, but he
does not need eight.
Politicians are notorious for the perks
they receive. It is ridiculous that so much
money is spent on these extravagencies.
There is no shortage of sectors in the
state that could benefit from extra fund-
ing.
With $1 million saved by scaling back
the air fleet, Engler must take immediate
advantage of this opportunity to improve
the educational entities of the state, an
area where he notoriously underspends.
Engler should find other areas within his
office to cut back on and return that
money to the state's universities, to
which he is only guaranteeing a 1.5-per-
cent increase.

New animated movie promotes stereotypes

The University's Thai Students
Association is urging all Ann Arbor and
Southeast Michigan residents to boycott
Warner Brothers' new animated film ver-
sion of "The King and I," scheduled for
release on March 19. The King and I has
been banned in Thailand since 1956, when
the original film was released. The 1956
film starring Yul Brynner, which is the
most recognizable version of "The King
and I," and the stage musical upon which
it is based, are highly offensive to Thais,
Thai Americans and all Asian Americans.
The very fact that this new version is
animated and targeted towards children
makes it doubly offensive. It may lead
young viewers to believe that the stereo-
typical images of Asians and inherent dis-
criminatory train of thought in the film
are tolerable.
The original musical and film contain
many historical and cultural errors.
Many decorative elements and Thai
"customs" portrayed in the film are either
depicted in inappropriate contexts or are
simply not Thai. In keeping with a com-
mon practice in portraying Asian coun-
tries in the 1950s, the Siam (Thailand's
historical name) portrayed in "The King
and I" is a bizarre amalgam of various
Asian cultural elements and elements cre-
ated by Western sources to seem exotic
and Oriental.
His Royal Highness King Mongkut of
Thailand is portrayed as an arrogant, stub-
born, uneducated tyrant to be refined and
taught the "correct" Western traditions by
his children's schoolteacher, Anna.

Factual errors abound in the film and
musical's portrayal of the King.
The king was, in reality, a highly intel-
ligent and thoughtful man whose passion
for science was sparked by exposure to
the Western science of cartography. He
devoted himself to the study of astronomy
and correctly predicted a solar eclipse.
The film and musical's story imply
that Anna's advice and friendship to the
king helped avert Thailand's possible col-
onization by Britain and changed him into
a softer, more compassionate individual.
In actuality, Anna Leonowens is a figure
of little significance in Thai history. Her
"place" only results from her account of
the time she spent in Siam; her book cre-
ated the insulting tarnish on Thailand's
world reputation.
The storyline and the concept of "The
King and I" are offensive to all Asian
Americans. It is a classic case of
"Orientalism" in the arts of the West. The
Thai king is portrayed as an ignorant,
untamed savage who must be educated by
a Western intervening force; this charac-
terization is an archetypal example of the
Orientalist misrepresentation of Asians as
simple, childlike figures who must be
refined.
In addition, the new animated version
of "The King and I" further defiles Asian
culture by propagating stereotypes,
including mystical invocations of dragons
and the short, round, jolly, Buddha-like
Asian.
The appearance of such stereotypes in
1999 is simply shocking. These mis-

portrayals of Asian people are a lingering
reminder of outdated prejudices; they
remain ongoing affronts during a time in
which Asian Americans are establishing
as strong an identity in this country as
they have ever had. As we approach a new.,
millennium, we would like to believe that,
such derogatory stereotypes will be omit-...
ted from popular media.
The University's Thai Students
Association denounces Warner Brothers
for continuing the abhorrent legacy of,
"The King and I." Its sustained existence
remains a slap in the face to Thais and
Asians everywhere. The film's methods of
stereotyping must not be allowed to live
on to influence any new audiences. TSA
asks for your support in avoiding this film
in respect for the people of Thailand and,
the concept of equality everywhere.
- This viewpoint was submitted by,
Art and Design student Isra
Wongsarnpigoon on behalf of the,
University's Thai Students Association. It
is comprised of approximately 150 grad-
uate students and 75 undergraduates. It
has been in existence in its current form
since 1993. TSA will be performing a-
short skit voicing some of the above con-
cerns about "The King and I" at
Generation APA, University's annual
student-run Asian American cultural
show. Generation APA will occur on
March 31, 1999, at the Power Center on
the University's Central Campus. For
more information about TSA, contact Isra
Wongsarnpigoon, publicity chair, at
827-0956 or e-mail ivw@umich.edu.

Clinic bombings should be taken seriously

LEEL BOLNGER
UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT
2074 FLEMING
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
764-6270
C_.. A ,t . nv hnl ir.. r-; nr

(U-WIRE) PROVIDENCE, R.I. -
Early Saturday morning in Asheville, N.C.,
another abortion clinic was bombed. Eric
Rudolph, the serial bomber who is suspect-
ed in the bombings of other clinics and of
Centennial Park at the 1996 Olympics, is a
suspect in this explosion as well.
This time is different than the previous
anti-abortion violence, since no one was
maimed or killed in the blast. But it is still

legislative channels. They don't work to
set up public and cheap facilities so that
single mothers can find food and cloth-
ing and housing for themselves and their
children. They don't set up more shelters
for battered women running from abusive
husbands, boyfriends or fathers.
Essentially, they don't make it any easier
to be a pregnant woman who is scared
about what an unwanted pregnancy

same protection.
It's not as if the potential killers in the
anti-abortion crowd are keeping a low pro-
file or keeping their opinions to them-
selves. If threats against abortion providers
were treated with the same seriousness as,
say, threats against celebrities or politi-
cians, the people who would consider
threatening clinics with anthrax-filled
envelopes would think twice before carry-

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