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March 29, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-29

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 29, 1999

47he stichtom ])at7ig

Ignorance, naivete and plain old stupidity the 'U'

,I

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

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.

Getting out the vote
MSA election enjoys highest turnout ever

S o there I was, shuffling through the crowd
trying to get into the Fishbowl so I could
print up a paper that was due in 15 minutes,
when I hear some guy up in front of me decry-
ing the NATO strike on Serbia.
Minding my own
business, I don't say
anything. But then, as
I am about to turn the
corner, the very same
guy holds out a flyer :
and asks me to vote for
the Defend
Affirmative Action
Party.
I hold my tongue .6
and don't say what I
am really thinking Branden
("No, stupid") but the Sanz
irony of the whole sit-
uation descends on me I
as I'm running laps, the HaM eM r
trying to find a com-
puter in time. This is a party that is based on
defending affirmative action (hence the
name), supposedly because the existence of
affirmative action inhibits the use of policies
that are biased against minorities.
OK, I can see the logic in that. What I am
having a hard time with, however, is figuring
out how someone who is a representative of
such a party could be anything but pro-
NATO. Let's think about this folks: geno-
cide; ethnic cleansing. Ummm, that sounds
appealing, doesn't it? As far as I can tell, this
is probably the worst type of discrimination
that could possibly be inflicted, yet here was
some yahoo telling me I should vote for him
seconds after ridiculing NATO and the
United States (pause while the author
scratches his head in bewilderment).
Unfortunately, he is not alone in his inanity.
I see this sort of thing almost daily around

campus, and I believe I have finally figured
out what causes it. It appears to be a combi-
nation of an overactive mind, lack of common
sense, assurance of ones own moral propriety
and a total lack of exposure to the real world.
These people can be found everywhere,
proselytizing on every subject imaginable. You
can find them babbling about the plight of
Indonesian sweatshop workers, trying to save
the spotted owl, telling us the death penalty is
"barbaric" or why the United States should
stop trying to be the world's policeman.
All right people, I didn't want to have to be
the one to tell you this, but here it comes so
listen carefully: Ann Arbor is 50 square miles
surrounded by reality. If you grew up in some
suburban whitebread place like Rochester
Hills or Long Island and then came here for
school without ever having bedn anywhere
else (and no, I don't count the family vacation
to the Bahamas,)YOU DON'T KNOW SHIT
ABOUT LIFE.
When you have been to Thailand and seen
a mother willing to prostitute her own 14-
year-old daughter for $20 an hour, then you
can tell me about the evils of sweatshop
labor. When you have personally met a for-
merly self-sufficient family of four that had
to go on welfare because they could no
longer find work logging, then you can tell
me why the spotted owl is so important. If
one of your parents is a Holocaust survivor,
then you can tell me why America shouldn't
be the world's policeman (it's not like they
are going to call Iceland when the shit hits
the fan, you know).
If you have never seen, or never even
stopped to consider the existence of places
like Pooler, Georgia, or Black Rock, New
Mexico, where families grow up in trailers
or in houses with dirt floors and the kids
don't own a single pair of shoes - yet you
are whining about someone in Honduras

making a "living wage" - my only
response is: get a fucking clue.
I realize that, being young and in college,
we are granted some level of stupidity by
those older and wiser than us, but let's try not
to overdo it here.
The problem is, the whole safe, protected
University environment lets people who in a
more natural setting would have already been
'culled out of the gene pool, thrive and prosper.
Why? Well, because they don't have to earn a
living, deal with raising kids or any of life's
other little issues that are going to hit them
like a sledgehammer after graduating (provid-
ed that mommy and daddy actually "cut them
oft," of course).
This may be a real shock for some of you,
but you see gentle reader, my purpose here is
not to castigate but to educate. The real world
is out there, closer than some of you might
realize (take a drive up to Flint if you don't
believe me). The real world is not kind. The
real world is not just. And, Lord knows, the
real world is not fair.
The real world is filled with thieves, rapists,
lawyers and everything else that is wrong with
humanity. You think the death penalty is bar-
baric? Ever had to console a friend after she
was raped? If you have, then you understand
me telling you that I would whack the guy
myself and not think twice.
Yet that is exactly what makes it so beau-
tiful. Seeing the ugliness up close and per-
sonal makes the good things that much bet-
ter. Getting an "A" on a test is great, but
finding out that you landed a great job that
dozens of other people were trying to get is
even better.
So enjoy college while you can, just realize
that, while it only gets harder after this, it also
only gets better.
- Branden Sanz can be reached over
e-mail at hammerhead@umich.edu.

,I

W ithout historical knowledge, many
people would be inclined to regard
last week's 18 percent voter turnout at the
elections for Michigan Student Assembly,
LSA Student Government and the
University of Michigan Engineering
Council as more sad evidence of apathy's
rule over Ann Arbor. Put in context howev-
er, voter turnout last Wednesday and
Thursday represents awelcome increase of
general student participation in campus pol-
itics.
The record-setting 6,380 ballots cast in
the most recent election was a marked
improvement over last year's elections in
which approximately 4,600 students voted.
And just three years ago, in 1996, voting hit
an all time low with only 3,737 votes cast.
Multiple forces can claim part of the credit
for last week's surge in voting. Issues such
as the introduction of minors into the
College of Literature, Science and the Arts,
the Code of Student Conduct and the future
of MSA's new coursepack store were no
doubt at the forefront of students' minds
when they voted. The efforts of individual
candidates, who simply urged students to
participate in the elections and party spon-
sored voting initiatives should not be
ignored either.
Possibly the biggest factor in the success
of this year's elections was the invaluable
convenience of online voting. Last week,
6,202 of the ballots cast were done over the
University's computer network.
Unfortunately, with the weekend's revela-
tions of electronic voter fraud, some people
may become apprehensive towards online
voting. While it is evident that strict mea-

sures ought to be taken in the future to
ensure the integrity of student government
elections, the swift response to last week's
occurrence should quell most students'
fears.
Students should not turn their backs on
student government now that the election is
over and leave their representatives to pur-
sue alternative agendas. Rather, representa-
tives must be held responsible for delivering
on the promises that got them elected. The
issues that characterized the election must
be the same ones that dominate the respec-
tive agendas of MSA, LSA-SG and UMEC.
Voter turnout of 18 percent may be a step
in the right direction, but it is far from ideal.
Hopefully the trend initiated by this year's
election will continue. Not only are the var-
ious branches of student government impor-
tant voices on campus with regard to policy,
but they are distributors of funds vital to a
variety of student organizations as well.
Every student is assessed a mandatory
annual $20 "student activities" fee. It is in
students' own best interest to take the few
minutes necessary to cast a ballot during the
student government elections.
Thanks mostly to a range of particularly
important issues, and the presence of online
voting, the past election for positions in stu-
dent government enjoyed high student par-
ticipation. Students must continue to take
initiative during the coming year to ensure
that MSA, LSA-SG and UMEC representa-
tives maintain a focus on the issues they
were elected to address. If participation in
campus politics continues to increase, all
students can expect a better quality of life at
the University.

MSA scandal proves e-mail is vulnerable

By Jeffrey Kosseff
Daily Editorial Page Editor
I was shocked to learn about the latest
Michigan Student Assembly pseudo-scan-
dal. Brouhahas of MSA past were centered
around Franklin Planners and $500 fund-
ing discrepancies. Some people, who had
little else to worry about, were outraged by
trivial "scandals." I always wondered why
they were so peculiarly tight-assed. If
MSA rose to the level of corruption where
thousands of dollars were being laundered
daily, then I'd worry about it. But I was
always willing to let these aspiring politi-
cians be a little corrupt. It would prepare
them for their future. But the most recent
MSA hubbub has made me begin to worry.
A lot.
It didn't bother me that 71 votes were
falsified. That's a violation of basic demo-
cratic principles, but it is MSA we're talk-
ing about. The winner most likely had
nothing to do with the break-in directly,
and it will be difficult to determine why

the hacker falsified the votes. Was it to
help the person for whom the votes were
cast, or was it to set up that candidate and
make it look like they were involved in the
hacking? I really don't care. That's some-
thing so petty that only The Michigan
Review's editors would worry about it. I
was disturbed because it demonstrated how
vulnerable University unignames and pass-
words are to hackers.
A hacker in Markley's computing site
managed to get ahold of 115 passwords for
students' Information Technology Division
accounts. The short amount of time they
had to retrieve the students' passwords
demonstrates the capability of hackers on
campus. I don't know what the hell a net-
work sniffer is, but I'm terrified of it. I had
always been under the impression that e-
mail was a safe form of communication. I
change my password often, and I really
don't have anything in my inbox anyone
would want to read. But it scares me to
know that e-mail, which is my primary
form of communication, is so vulnerable.
CHIP CULLEN

MSA, which has been effective on
issues such as the Code and setting up a
coursepack store, should look into how the
votes were affected by the hacking. The
members should work with ITD to deter-
mine how to make the campus safer from
hackers.
Obviously, most MSA members are not
computer experts, but they should work
with campus computer experts to learn
ways students can protect their ITD
accounts.
ITD, while it has taken many steps to
protect uniqname accounts, should use this
incident as a learning experience. If these
break-ins did not involve MSA elections, it
is unlikely they would have been noticed. I
wonder how many e-mail break-ins occur
every day and go unnoticed. Oh well, I
guess I'll start using pen, paper and a 33-
cent stamp. That's probably the safest way
to communicate.
- Hopefully, only Jeffrey Kosseff can
be reached over e-mail at
jkosseft@umich.edu.

'f1

No reform
State spends excessively on prisons

GRINDING THE NIA

F irst, the good news. Crime in Michigan
is at a 30-year low. Now the bad news.
According to a study released in The
Detroit News last week, prison spending
and prison populations are increasing at
alarming rates - with no end in sight.
While the low crime rate can be at least
partly attributed to an increasing prison
population, Michigan prisons cannot con-
tinue to sustain the overflow of prisoners.
Now is the time for the state to examine
alternate methods of punishing and rehabil-
itating its criminals.
There are some advantages to the
increasing prison population. More danger-
ous criminals are kept off the street for
longer periods of time due to an increasing-
ly stringent parole board. But with the
increase in prison population comes an
increase in the percentage of taxpayer dol-
lars that go to funding for the Department
of Corrections. According to The Detroit
News, in 1982 the corrections budget made
up less than five percent of the state's gen-
eral fund. But today, 17 cents out of every
tax dollar goes to corrections. That consti-
tutes an increase of $700 million since
1982.
With the increase in prison spending
comes a decrease in the percentage of state
dollars that go to other programs like edu-
cation. From 1996 to 1997, the Department
of Education budget was decreased by
almost $4 million, while the Department of
Corrections had its budget increased by
nearly $50 million. The more funding pris-
ons get, the less is left to spend on other
important programs.
So what is the government to do?
Increase prison populations and money is

spending on prisons, and the Department of
Corrections may not be able to house all the
criminals. It seems like a difficult problem,
but there are solutions.
The state should start by eliminating
mandatory-minimum regulations, which
necessitate holding prisoners for a certain
length of time. While the no-parole regula-
tion may sound good, the result is a prison
system crowded by prisoners serving
increasingly long terms. As The Detroit
News reported, more than one-third of
inmates are serving 10 years or longer. The
parole board should have more authority to
release criminals early, which will help ease
the pressure on prisons housing not only
more criminals, but criminals serving
longer sentences.
The state should also look into alterna-
tive methods of curbing crime.
Incarceration is only one way of reforming
a criminal. Other methods, such as rehabil-
itation and treatment programs, are often
believed to be more effective. A prisoner is
not likely to acquire a new skill while in
prison, and once out, he or she is likely to
return to a life of crime. Instead, rehabilita-
tion and treatment programs not only treat
criminals, but teach them new skills, thus
reducing the number of repeat offenders.
According to The Detroit News, the
prison population has more than tripled in
two decades, and allocations to the
Department of Corrections now take up
one-sixth 6f the state's general fund. This
trend cannot continue without harming
other state programs, including education.
Now is the time for the state to reform its
prison system by eliminating mandatory-
minimums and increasing treatment and

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Marijuana bill
targets Ann Arbor
TO THE DAILY:
The Michigan Senate has just passed a
bill that steps into the realm of tyranny. I'm
not going to tell you that pot is good; the
subject matter of this bill is irrelevant. The
fact remains that this country is set up to
provide for local control wherever possible,
centralizing power only in the areas where it
is necessary, like foreign affairs or interstate
relations.
The problem is that the Michigan
Legislature wants to tell Ann Arbor how it
should enforce its own laws. It's like
Washington trying to tell New York how to
run its school system. Simply ridiculous.
By requiring "All Cities" (they mean Ann
Arbor) to have the same classification and
punishment for a particular crime, they are
suggesting the State has the power to step
into each city's local government and screw
with all the existing legislation until it fits
the likings of the central state government.
The bill in question, requiring "All
Cities" to treat marijuana possession as a
misdemeanor and have certain mandatory
punishments attached to it, is a slap in the
face to the .city of Ann Arbor. The civil
infraction classification and small fine cur-
rently surrounding marijuana possession
suits the city just fine, even though it may
not be so for other cities in Michigan. I
think, as I'm sure all the city officials would
agree, that this city is perfectly capable of
regulating itself, without the tyrannical
"help" of the state government.
Please, contact your representatives and
let them know you feel the same way, as the
bill has not yet passed through the
Michigan House. Remind them what coun-
try they live in, and what principles guide
the government of that country. Let's stay
safe from a too powerful, oppressive cen-
tralized government.

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stop wasting paper," 3/25/99), castigated
members of the Blue and DAAP Parties for
continuing to print candidate fliers and post
them in Angell Hall. The Students' Party,
Diamond claims, wants to stop all the "wan-
ton waste and irritation" caused by such fliers.
Such a noble claim. For all his talk about
how obviously wasteful and irritating these
fliers are, I'd be more impressed if Diamond
and other SP officials (is that a contradiction
in terms?) had acted on this knowledge before
the Daily pointed it out in an editorial.
Prescient as the Daily edit board is, I think it
was clear far before they wrote their anti-flier
editorial how annoying and wasteful the fliers
were. The SP, however, was more than content
to use, as Diamond put it, "a plethora of multi-
colored edit-styled political gimic ridden
waste" before the Daily made an issue out of
it. Diamond is not worried about the waste or
annoyance - he's worried about votes.
Diamond quips about how sad it is that candi-
dates want that "all important poster spot." He
should know - he wanted it, too. I expect

State senators
'blindly' attacked
Ann Arbor with
marijuana bills
TO THE DAILY:
In response to the senate's recent pass-
ing of Bill 380, 1 would like to thank state
Sen. Alma Smith (D-Salem Twp.) for
backing Ann Arbor's collective voice by
voting against the proposition.
'Every other senator, and most likely a
large majority of the house, is a raging
hypocrite; first off, for thinking increased
fines will reduce marijuana smoking.
Second, (and they are by no means the
only officials guilty of this) for continu-
ing to say pot smoking is a horrible, sin-
ful act while indulging state pocketbooks
with the taxing of alcoholic goods.
T. r.;«,!--

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