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April 15, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-04-15

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 15, 1999

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Milestone birthdays showcase typica

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.

Equald seaing
Luxury boxes would reduce collegiate spirit

T he time quickly approaches that I will
take a step as inexorable as Greg
Norman missing putts at the Masters. No,
I'm not writing a "goodbye column."
Rather, in little more than a week, I turn
21.
As you mightg
expect, I've never
had a 21st birthday
before. From what I
can tell, it's essen-
tially the beginning
of 10-year milestone
birthdays. Here's
what I think will
happen:
Someone will
come to my door,
realizing that I am an DaVid
inexperienced drinker Wallace
and partier. He will Exl
be dressed all in
black and wearing ManarSt,
dark sunglasses. He
is not Johnny Cash, though I'm sure he
would help. I've watched "The X-files," so
I ask him what clandestine government
organization he's from. He tells me he is
from a group known as Helping Americans
Live Lives Made Amusing, Relevant and
Kindred.
"There are certain things you need to
identify yourself as 21-years old," he says.
From under his arm he produces a shoebox
cantaining everything. He hands me a beer
mug, a champagne flume and a martini
glass. Then, he provides enough alcohol to
impress Dean Martin. One poster of an
attractive woman in a bikini, and one poster
of a Ferrari follow. Party supplies complete
the deal.
I smile at the truth and absurdity of it all.
"Enjoy yourself," the man says. "Have a

great birthday." I close the.door behind him
and begin the rest of my 20s.
The night before I turn 30, I anticipate
another visit. Sure enough, the man dressed
in black comes to my house. This time his
voice echoes sarcasm as he reaches in his
box.
"Congratulations, Mr. Wallace, you're no
longer cool. Here's your collection of
smooth jazz CDs, and these are the keys to
your Saturn."
He smiles and shakes my unoffered
hand, leaving the keys in it, and finishes
his spiel before I can talk. "You are no
longer 'hip' or 'with it,' though you will
use those terms. And from now on, every-
thing you like will be considered 'kitsch.'
Nick at Nite is channel 42, and you'd bet-
ter hurry up and have kids. You're not get-
ting any younger."
I am less amused with his honest barbs,
but I take them with reasonably good
humor. "Happy birthday anyway, he says
as I close the door. I pop a Sade CD in my
changer and live my 30s.
A few days after my 40th birthday, I
again meet the familiar visitor.
"I have to confiscate your smooth jazz.
Here are your new CDs, which are the ones
you listened to back when you were 21.
They are now called 'classic rock."'
I look on, surprised. He produces a set of
keys as he did a decade before. "These are
to your minivan, which you will use to take
your kids to soccer practice," he tells me. I
grin. The kids are 5 and 7, just beginning to
show an interest in sports.
"I also have a spare tire for you, but it
doesn't go with the car:'
I close the door in his face. I've had it
with the overweight and over-the-hill jokes.
"Happy belated birthday," he yells, muffled
through the door. I put on the Dave

d life changes
Matthews Band's greatest hits compilation
and slide gracefully into my 40s.
He returns as I begin to gray around my
temples. It is my 50th birthday. In the fourth
decade of his appearance, I realize he will
always visit me. Again, his shoebox greet-
ing bears the witty insights and gentle sar-
casm that is his hallmark.
"I'm not confiscating any CDs this time,"
he says. "Now I'm here to adjust your
stereo so it can't be turned up too loud.' I
know there are other jabs coming, and he
wastes no time.
"You now think that 'The Lockhorns'
cartoons are funny." Then, he digs deeply
into his box and produces a letter and a rub-
ber glove. The letter is from the AARP. That
I get. I hold the glove up and cock an eye-
brow at him.
"Prostate exams,"he says matter-of-fact-
ly, the corners of his mouth slightly
upturned.
"Prostate exams," I groan. This guy's
quite a card. I make an attempt to salvage
the day. "Don't I get a mid-life crisis angle?
How about a convertible?"
"Sorry," he said, genuinely. "I don't pick
the sentiments"
I see him off. "Happy birthday, old
timer," he says.
As he walks away I ask, "You're not from
any secret agency, are you?"
"No, I'm not"
"Then who sent you?"
He turns around and smiles widely, with
an implication that I should have known.
"People who care enough to send the very
best:'7
think for a moment, staring at the man
from H.a.l.l.m.a.r.k. "Tell them to include
money next time."
- David Wallace can be reached over
e-mail at davidmw@umich.edu.

0

E very fall, students, professors, alum-
ni and University administrators
alike bring themselves to sit on the same
level - the hard, cold Michigan Stadium
benches. Recently, it was rumored that
the University planned on ending this tra-
dition by adding luxury boxes to the sta-
dium. These speculations were put to rest
this week by University President Lee
Bollinger when he announced on Monday
that there were no plans to make any fur-
ther additions to the stadium. In this time
of worry about the integrity of the
Athletic Department, Bollinger made a
move in the right direction to help pre-
serve the true spirit and tradition of colle-
giate athletics at the University.
In recent additions to the stadium,
seats were added to three sides of the sta-
dium, leaving six missing rows of seats
on the east side. This seemed like a per-
fect place for luxury boxes. Many people
were already upset about recent additions,
especially the large maize and blue "halo"
around the top, believing them to be
expensive, unnecessary and a step away
from the collegiate nature of the stadium.
Many feared that money and the Athletic
Department's desire for a professional
setting would corrupt the sport.
Bollinger's decision is one of many
made this semester concerning the Athletic
Department, showing the University is
attempting to maintain a hold on the prin-
ciples of amateur athletics. The Athletic
Department recently upgraded two club
sports - men's soccer and women's water
polo - to varsity status.
This change was sorely needed, as the
soccer team had already won its champi-
onship multiple times, and the water polo

team was a strong competitor. Although it
is important to note that the football team
brings in millions of dollars in revenue
for the Athletic Department, this money
should be earned in a manner befitting
the amateur status of collegiate athletics
and spent to meet the needs of the depart-
ment. Michigan football should not see its
tradition and integrity usurped to earn
more revenue.
The Athletic Department also took an
honorable action when it lowered the cost
of alumni tickets by $4 this semester,
rather than raising it by 30 percent as
planned. Such an increase would have
been too much, too quickly. It is impor-
tant that the University realized its mis-
take and took the proper steps. In another
important decision, the University turned
down an offer to install free scoreboards
within the stadium, because it would have
violated the no-ads policy in Michigan
Stadium.
By rejecting the idea of luxury boxes
at the stadium, Bollinger is making yet
another attempt to distance Michigan ath-
letics from the commercialism of profes-
sional sports. If the University leadership
were to allow Michigan athletics to
become more commercial, the sport
would slowly separate itself from the
University. When players get this compet-
itive and improvements become this
large, it seems like there is a fine line
between amateur and professional. In a
time when the Orange Bowl is called the
"FedEx Orange Bowl," and "Tostitos" is
seen in larger letters than the words
"Fiesta Bowl" that accompany it,
Bollinger's decision is a correct and wel-
come contrast.

0

Controversial scholars should not be censored

By Nick Woomer
Daily Editorial Page Writer
Next fall, students at Princeton
University will be able to take a class
entitled "Questions of Life and Death"
from a person who some call "the most
dangerous man in the world today."
When it hired Peter Singer, Princeton
was probably not counting on being
found guilty by one writer in The Wall
Street Journal of "jettisoning ... the
understanding of man's dignity that has
defined Western civilization for two mil-
lennia." If we are to take the word of
some writers, activists and academics,
the Antichrist has a degree from Oxford,
founded the International Association of
Bioethics and wrote "Animal
Liberation," one of that movement's
finest intellectual achievements. Singer
hasn't even started teaching, and he
already has some groups vowing to pick-
et his classes.
As one might expect, you need to
have some pretty unconventional views
to become evil incarnate, and Singer def-
initely has unconventional views. In
accordance with his fellow utilitarian
thinkers, Jeremy Bentham and John

Stuart Mill, Singer believes in the doc-
trine of achieving the greatest happiness
for the greatest number.
But Bentham and Mill didn't advo-
cate euthanasia for infants born with dis-
abilities such as spina bifida, severe
mental retardation or hemophilia. Nor
did they equate the killing of an infant to
the killing of a dog or cow because each
shares a similar capability for emotions
and rationality.
A closet neo-Nazi with an academic
disposition? No. Singer, who is working
on a biography of one of his three grand-
parents who were killed in the
Holocaust, is concerned with relieving
suffering - sometimes by means of
euthanasia - for all living things,
human and animal alike. The emphasis is
on quality of life, not life for its own
sake.
Try as he might to be understood,
Singer has plenty of vocal detractors in
the academic community who approve of
efforts to silence him. In a recent article
on Singer, The New York Times quoted
Cambridge philosopher Jenny Teichman
saying, "False philosophy can be danger-
ous and ... if circumstances prevent its

being refuted in print, it is probably all
right, in extreme cases, to silence it in
other ways."
It isn't necessary to agree with Singer
to find these reactions disconcerting.
History has shown that common people
react to thinkers who have the audacity
to reject western civilization's most
sacred principles with outrage.
Usually scholars brush these mis-
guided sentiments aside - there have
still been no serious calls for Princeton
to strip Singer of his position. But if
Teichman's attitude reflects even a small
trend within academia - to simply cen-
sor views that cast doubts upon what
many consider to be indubitabe - the
university community must be wary.
Once we begin to tell our best
thinkers, "Question freely, but just don't
go here," progressive thought is bound to
plunge down the gutter. No matter how
intrinsically true or good a belief may
seem at face value, enlightened people
must continue the process of asking hard
questions and deal with the sometimes
painful answers.
- Nick Woomer can be reached over
e-mail at nwoomer@umich.edu.
TENTAIEL SPAKN

Rescuing Kosovo
NATO must exercise caution in intervention

0

THOMAS KULJURGIS

The words of one ethnic Albanian
refugee to the Associated Press indi-
cate the magnitude of the atrocities com-
mitted in Kosovo: "Dante's allegory of
hell is nothing compared to this."
Americans have witnessed three weeks of
NATO bombings, three weeks of diplo-
matic stalemates and three weeks of a
defiant Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic. It is quickly becoming evident
that NATO leaders face tough choices in
the future. But as an alliance of some of
the most powerful and advanced countries
in the world, NATO must continue to act
upon its moral imperative to force a swift
resolution to the tragedy in Kosovo.
The daily reports of atrocities commit-
ted by the Serbs ought to make the case
for intervention self-evident. British
sources say 100,000 young and middle-
aged men are conspicuously absent from
the stream of refugees fleeing Kosovo,
and unconfirmed reports of looting and
systematic, brutal rapes and killings com-
mitted at the hands of Serbian soldiers are
flowing out of the region. Aerial pho-
tographs of what look to be mass graves
give credence to the charges of ethnic
purging. One such report charged the
Yugoslavian army with raping young eth-
nic Albanian women at a training camp in
the southwesterly corner of the region and
murdering 20 of them.
The effectiveness of the current
airstrikes is debatable; NATO strategists
must be able to evaluate their tactics and
amend them to bring the situation to the

but it is imperative that those planning
missions and defining objectives take
every possible precaution to alleviate the
deaths of innocents. The primary objec-
tive in the campaign must be to prevent
loss of human life and cannot become
muddled by unrelated factors. NATO
must remain resolute but flexible in
diplomatic efforts to hammer out a solu-
tion to the crisis.
NATO's polices must account for the
international repercussions of carrying
out its mission. Primarily, decision-mak-
ers cannot afford to downplay the role of
Russia in the conflict. With a sagging
economy and a churning political climate,
with growing fascist and nationalist move-
ments, Russia is a wild card that has to be
regarded with sensitivity. Ultranationalist
leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky told Russia's
representative body, the Duma, "The
Third World War started on March 24,"
the date of the first NATO airstrikes.
The tumultuous history of the Balkans,
whose conflicts tend to expand far
beyond the region itself- as happened
after the assassination of Archduke Franz
Ferdinand in 1914 - is impossible to
ignore. NATO commanders cannot only
consider strategic and military factors,
but need to be keenly aware of the atti-
tudes of other nations in the region.
The dire situation in Kosovo demands
a firm international response. When an
aggressive, implacable government per-
petuates a humanitarian disaster of this
scale, and diplomacy is exhausted, mili-

THE JOYS of CRISP

Nudity at 'Mile'
should not be
treated as a crime
TO THE DAILY:
TheNaked Mile is one of thoseAnn
Arbor traditions that's not likely to go
away any time soon. In fact, it only grows
in popularity each and every year. It's one
of those great college experiences that
students love to tell their parents, but
most likely will never, ever, tell their
kids.
I understand the University's concern
for students' safety, and I also understand
why University President Lee Bollinger
is writing a letter to seniors discouraging
their participation. The Naked Mile has
lost popularity with local University and
government officials, due primarily to its
sheer size and safety concerns.
Ineffective as his letter might be, at the
very least, Bollinger needs to save face.
At best, he's concerned for the safety of
the students. I respect that.
What I fail to see is the reasoning
behind threats to convict students partic-
ipating in the Naked Mile on sex crimes.
The article on the front page of Tuesday's
Daily ("Bollinger to send letters against
Mile," 4/13/99) states that "if convicted
of state indecent exposure laws, students
could face up to a year of jail time, in
addition to having to register as a lifetime
sex offender." I will argue with anyone
who tries to tell me that college students
seen naked at the Naked Mile (god for-
bid) should be thrown in jail and bran-
dished as lifetime sex offenders along
with the rapists and pedophiles of the
etat of irhian ,Ann _ eppthe nin

?LEASE HOLD OM..
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office for days. Nude, if need be.
Well, maybe not.
MIKE MAcFERRIN
ENGINEERING JUNIOR
'U' administration
should not
discourage running
in Naked Mile
TO THE DAILY:
I am disappointed by the University
administration's radical change in policy
regarding the Naked Mile in comparison
to last year. I find it almost hvocritical

in danger of assault, I say: of course they
are; they're running naked in public. But
a well-prepared runner can minimize that
danger by being prepared. Active protec-
tion measures such as squirt guns or even
pepper spray are a prudent idea, as well as
having a friend meet you at a preset spot
with your clothes or a ride home.
I realize that some Naked Mile runners
are intoxicated, and that they might not be
rational enoughto think of these options
when the last day of class finally comes.
But like the underage drinking that occurs
on campus, the naked mile will continue to*
be run despite threats of legal action or the
disapproval of the administration. The
University's only hope to keep its students
safe is not to discourage the Naked Mile,
but to embrace it, possibly setting guide-
lines that regulate the number of spectators
ni. the . th f the .n. Th; i, ,i *h. .

i

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