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January 06, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-06

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 6, 2000

be Si{rbligan ~fi(g

I live in a school offlocks, herds, packs and gaggles

V V .Z

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily. letters@umich.edu
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.

Biting back
Dental administration due for a check-up

never thought I had anything in com-
mon with fraternity pledges who
allow others to torture them in the name
of hazing.
Another group of my white-capped fel-
low students face
allegations of duct-
tape-related hazing.
Throughout winter
break, as my friends
at home teased me
about last month's
nationally publicized
charges of hazing
that resulted in a BB
gun shot to the groin,
I wondered what was
going through these J
people's minds. How y
did these sheep get Kosseff
into the University?
Don't they have any
common sense? N W ye
I just couldn't
understand their actions. I would never let
my friends near me with duct tape, BB guns
or any other threatening objects. I would
question authority. That sets me apart from
While I was riding my high horse of
superior judgment, my friend pointed me to
an experiment conducted by psychology
researcher Stanley Milgram published in
1974. In "Obedience to Authority," Milgram
told his subjects they were teachers and
instructed them to send an electric shock to
learners in the room next door every time
they answered a question incorrectly.
With every shock, the voltage increased
until it reached fatal levels. That's what the
subjects believed. but the "learners" were
actors only pretending to be shocked. They
banged on the walls, screamed in agony and

even yelled about heart problems. They
begged for the teachers to stop. But the per-
son conducting the experiment simply told
the teachers to keep increasing the voltage
with every wrong answer until it was at 450
volts - a lethal level.
I would expect almost every subject to
stop pressing the shock button as soon as
they heard any signs of pain. Common peo-
ple wouldn't put others' lives in jeopardy
simply because they were told to. There will
always be that small group of psychotic ser-
ial killers.
Surprisingly, according to Milgram's
results, 65 percent of the subjects had that
serial killer mentality. They increased the
voltage to the highest, most deadly level.
They did it because an authority figure told
them to.
I started to think about what I would
have done. It's tough to tell, now that I
know the outcome. I've often blindly
accepted and obeyed authority. Sometimes
I believe what my professors say without
critically analyzing their claims. I watched
my peers in high school ridicule other stu-
dents without standing up for them. So I
might have felt pretty safe following a
researcher's instructions. I don't know if I
would have continued to press the button as
I heard screams of agony and death. I'd like
to think I would have stopped even before I
heard the first shriek. But the sheep in the
back of my mind says otherwise.
Sheep live within all of our personali-
ties. There's a part of each of us that
wants to follow the leader. It's convenient
to do and scary not to do. How many
times have you mindlessly obeyed an
authority figure without any other reason
than that person's status or your insecuri-
ties? We've all done it, and it's.because of
that sheep who lives in our psyches.

The sheep is responsible for the success-
es of Chicken Soup books. George W Bush,
boy bands, dot-com tock and Cffs Notes.
The sheep resists urges to run away
when an older fraernity member points a
gun at his head and groin.
The sheep doesn std up for the stu-
dent everyone makes fun of in high
school, because he'-s terified of becom-
ing the outcast.
The sheep attacks affirmative action
without knowing its defnition.
The sheep defends affirmative action
without knowing its definition.
The sheep applies to the Business
School in his sophomore year, satisfying his
parents' wishes, even though he'd love to
study great books, politicai philosophy or
biological anthropology.
The sheep fears Arabs because media
"experts" brand them terrorists.
The sheep sheds blood in a war he does-
n't understand.
The sheep never takes the first slice of
pizza. even if he's starving.
The sheep votes along party lines
because family members, employers, union
leaders and local political bosses tell him
who and what are fair and just.
The sheep, fearing Y2K meltdowns
after an in-depth report by Barbara
Walters, buys every bottle of water and
can of soup available.
As much as we don't like to admit it,
we're all part sheep. The sheep mentality
shatters any illusions of free will and helps
us understand the roots of tragedies such
as the Holocaust and successes such as the
stock market boom. While I have little in
common with fraternity pledges, I'm prob-
ably just as obedient to authority.
- Jeffrey Kosseif can he reached over
e-mail at jkos /frE umich.edu.

Imagine failing a pre-requisite class for your
major and taking the last-chance remedial
course offered, only to fail that class as well.
When two University dental students did just
that, they were dismissed from their program
- Dental School policy for students who fail
those particular classes. But this policy is
apparently open to administrative interpreta-
Dental School Prof. L. Keith Yohn filed a
lawsuit against the University last month after
Dental School Dean William Kotowicz
allowed the two students Yohn failed a third
chance at the course, a decision upheld by the
school's executive committee. This case shows
glaring deficiencies in the dental school's
appeals process as well as the objectives of the
University. A professor's grades should not be
overturned by a dean - an impartial board
should examine disputes.
In the College of Literature, Science and
the Arts, the LSA Academic Standards Board
hears complaints regarding grades. Through
petitions, students can express their disap-
proval at grade disputes still unresolved by
meetings with the professor or GSI and the
head of the specific department. This is more
effective and fair than the seemingly arbitrary
decision made by Kotowicz.
The fact that one of the dental students is a
relative of a dental school faculty member is

not the main issue at hand, although it is a
reminder of the importance of the checks and
balances a board - rather than an individual
- creates.
The ideal board would consist of indepen-
dent members - those not influenced by
activities within the school. Matters such as
these should not be placed solely in the hands
of one person, but rather an impartial and fair
group of people. Generally, a professor, espe-
cially one with long tenure like Yohn, should
have the trust of his department and not have
to go to court to earn his rights. Whether that
was true in this particular case remains to be
Yohn claims his rights of free speech and
property rights were violated. If he is correct,
this leads to frightening scenarios such as
surgery performed by an incompetent doctor.
The Dental School will not rank in the nation's
top five for long if such situations occur.
Though the possibility of ill-prepared den-
tists raises concerned eyebrows, we think the
situation illustrates the need for a panel to
decide disputes instead of an individual dean.
Such decisions require the judgment of more
than one person. The Dental School should
implement a panel to review student petitions,
similar to the LSA system, to prevent one per-
son from having too much power over students
and faculty.



Walking down the aisle

Vermont, California
S ometimes a little state can make a big
difference. Last month the Vermont
Supreme Court, ruled that gay and lesbian
couples must be given the same benefits and
protections accorded heterosexuals who
marry, making an unprecedented statement
to the rest of the country. These benefits
include such important matters as visitation
in hospitals (otherwise reserved for "family
members only") and joint medical coverage.
The court stopped short of making gay and
lesbian marriage legal, though this could be
one way the legislature may choose to satis-
fy the court's requirements.
Another way to satisfy the requirements
would be to set up a system similar to the
new "registry" in California. Through a new
bill, effective Jan. 1, state employees may
file as domestic partners and receive med-
ical and visitation benefits - 71 couples
had filed by Jan. 3. This process skips the
more controversial gay marriage issue,
while still allowing benefits.
Both systems are large steps in the right
direction. It is atrocious that in this day and
age people who lived through the civil rights
era and who saw desegregation can think it
is acceptable to discriminate against homo-
sexuals. To deny homosexual couples finan-
cial and marital benefits is an outright state-
ment that being homosexual is wrong.
The issue has been avoided for too long.
Many American politicians have hidden
under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for
all homosexual issues, while still denying
rights. In recent years, many states have
pushed against these archaic notions; a trend
that must be recognized and will not go
While providing benefits to gay and les-
bian couples is a great advance, the nation
must also pass legislation to allow gay mar-
riage. To do otherwise would be to deny
constitutional rights.
Much of the opposition against homo-
sexual marriage is because of the religious

extend rights to gays
is one of a lifelong commitment living
together, whether the marriage is through a
Catholic church, a temple or simply by
obtaining a marriage license from the state,
with no church involved. The concept of
gay marriage is not a religious one -
churches that oppose gay marriage certainly
cannot be forced to marry gay couples, nor
should they be. But many churches and reli-
gions now support gay marriage and per-
form ceremonies, even though the state does
not make it official.
It is important to take the further step to
allow homosexual marriage because of the
symbolic commitment and acceptance it
carries for couples. Gay and lesbian couples
carry the same wish for an official marital
union as do heterosexual couples.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle,
California's criteria for registering as
domestic partners for benefits is "two adults
who have chosen to share one another's lives
in an intimate and committed relationship of
mutual caring." They must also "share a res-
idence, be over 18, be jointly responsible for
living expenses, register with the state as
domestic partners and not be related by
How is this different from the traditional
concept of marriage? With divorce rates at
an all-time high, it is obvious that many
homosexual couples who wish to be married
carry a much stronger commitment than
some of the heterosexual couples who are
currently wed.
Many say the United States simply "isn't
ready" for homosexual marriage. This
notion is absurd. While it is certainly true
that many oppose the measure for their own
religious or personal reasons, that does not
make it acceptable to deny people their
inalienable rights and humanity. And when
new scientific evidence is coming out, indi-
cating a possible biological factor in homo-
sexuality, it seems all the more unjust. We
must look forward to make this century one

Women who pose
for offensive ads
deserve blame
In response to Elizabeth Mimms' Dec. 9
letter "Advertisements perpetuate sexism,:'
scrutinizing the Daily's advertising because of
"scantily clad women:" How can this be
offensive if the females are the ones posing for
these photos? A better idea would be for you
to turn your blame toward the women who
pose for these ads. as they are the ones who
obviously don't have the same morals that you
do. By the sounds of her letter, Mimms
sounds like the type of person who probably
thinks video games and rap music are causing
many acts of violence in society. Why not shift
the blame (if blame is needed at all) to some-
one who is directly responsible ?
'U' should not
monitor drinking
I am writing in response to Matthew
Murphy's Dec. 10 letter. "Enforcing drinking
laws will prevent crimes at the U."' I disagree
with his argument for a couple of reasons.
First, we are supposed to be legal adults now
- how can the University be expected to
oversee some 30.000 students? Police and
DPS officers are patrolling and enforcing. I
cannot count the numerous noise violations,
MIPs and other citations I have heard of this
past year. I think you'd be surorised by how


,,. "*.

I "

G Mvi

t o
p ..

tame and conservative our campus is in com-
parison to other universities. I do not mean to
attack your suggestion as I agree alcohol is
grounds for trouble. People use it as an excuse
and let stupidity get the better half of them
while under the influence. Regardless, it is not
fair to hold the University totally in charge of
monitoring drinking. As adults, we should try
to be as responsible as possible and take
blame for our own mistakes.
Races do not inter-
mix on campus
After attending this racially "diverse"
University, it has come to our attention that
this place is nothing more than an oversized

kindergarten class in which some kids won't
play nice with others based on superficial
characteristics. This becomes c, ident in one
trip to a frat party, a visit to a football game
or even sitting in class. Black football play-
ers rarely associate with their white team-
mates and vice versa in social gatherings.
This problem certainly does not affect the
football team alone - it is alive throughout
the Greek system. Divisions can clearly be
seen: Jewish houses rarely associate with
non-Jewish ones: African-American houses
don't associate much with white houses. The
solution is at our fingertips. All it takes is the
realization that we are all part of this
University - and should start acting that*
way. Kids, it's time to start p'aying nice with
others and start sharing your toys

30iv-posrve pnsoners' appei

The Clinton administration has urged the
U.S. Supreme Court not to hear an appeal in
a discrimination case filed by HIV-positive
prisoners in the Alabama prison system, in
which infected prisoners are barred from
participation in religious, educational and
recreational programs with other prisoners.
The decision to segregate the HIV-pos-
itive prisoners was made last April by the
I Ith U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which
cited the risk of infection when infected
and non-infected prisoners are allowed to
participate in the same events. "When the
adverse event is the contraction of a fatal
disease, the risk of transmission can be
significant even if the probability of trans-
mission is low.- the court wrote in its deci-
The 15-year-old case preceded the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,
which used the same "significant risk"
defense against discrimination charges.
But the I1Ith Circuit Court was wrong in
upholding the separation of infected pris-
oners, the appeal alleges. That opinion is
shared by a coalition of public health and
A mfi arnmwhich lim the enurt relieA

ing all prisoners to engage in activities
If the Supreme Court takes the White
House's advice and does not hear the
appeal, the circuit court's ruling would
stand -- not only keeping the infected
Alabama prisoners from participating in
programs that are available to other
inmates, but also setting a precedent that
could open the doors to HIV discrimination
in all walks of life. Currently, most states,
as well as the federal prison system, evalu-
ate their inmates individually and decide
whether to exclude HIV-positive prisoners
based on their histories and psychological
profiles. Only Alabama, Mississippi and
South Carolina automatically segregate the
infected prisoners.
The circuit court judges stated that "the
violence that is an inescapable part of prison
life" may subject non-infected prisoners to
HIV if they are integrated with HIV-positive
inmates. That may be true, but chances are
that such violent episodes aren't likely to
erupt during data processing classes, high
school equivalence testing and religious ser-
vincs --. thro nf the mnre than 7n nworams

What is more, the HV-positive prison-
ers are barred from participating in classes
that teach about the dangers of using drugs
and work-release programs that could
shorten their terms. So in effect, the infect-
ed prisoners could serve longer terms than
non-infected prisoners comicted of the
same crimes.
The appeal raises an Interesting ques-
tion about not only the rights of infected*
prisoners, but also the abily of prisons to
control their inmates. "The answer to that
question turns not on medical judgments
about the risk inherent in certain behaviors.
but on prison management judgments
about the ability of prison authorities to
control prisoners in various settings and
programs," the U.. solicitor general wrote
in a brief to the Supreme Couri.
The high court shotuId hear the prison-
ers' appeal and should strike down the auto-
matic discrimination. Decisions on whether
infected prione s should be 'ltd or
excluded from prison pro r ms should be
based on individual assessments - real
risk, not "fear and stigma."
- This eitorial an in the Jan .5issue



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