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March 09, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-09

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 9, 2000
$b Mirbiga ai &g

ywe'e still a school of rich white kids

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

MIKE SPAH
Editor in Chief
EMILY ACH'EN BA '
Editorial Page Eoitor

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

Issues deserving MSA candidates' focus

was in Houston, Texas, for just two days
of spring break- but I only needed to be
thcre for mintes before my repressed suspi-
cions were awakened and confirmed. I need
to get out of Ann Arbor, Sure, Ann Arbor
has been great lately - throngs of gorgeous
people, minus heir bulky coats, are coming
out of the woodwork.
Enterprising students
could probably sell
skip-class-and-spravwI
patches of the Diag.
Everything smells
better.
But Diag frolick-
ing and Dominick's
can't make me forget
my true feelings: As
much as I love this
collegiate fantasy
world, I want to be in Emily
a city - not the City AChenbaum
of Ann Arbor,' but a
real one, with sky- *
scrapers and ghettos. I .,R*gh
want to be around a
lot of people who look nothing like me.
Thus the repressed suspicions: The only
conspiracy theory I've ever believed in is the
one that fools people into thinking Ann
Arbor is a city, home to a University that is
'"diverse." But both Ann Arbor and the Uni-
versity's images are wannabe ones that will
win you over if you stay here long enough.
And it only takes a few minutes elsewhere
- like Houston - to find out both are fak-
ers.
I walked across the University of Hous-
ton's campus with my father. Home to more
than 30,000 students, it is about 15 percent
white - and their definition of white
includes Hispanics. Read that again. Fifteen
percent white. Put down your paper, look
around you. I was genuinely astounded.

Houston isn't even one of the traditionally
black southern schools. Their admissions
office does not bend over backwards to
attract minorities.
A short drive away is Rice University,
which looks a lot more like our own Univer-
sity: Southern-snotty rather than East Coast-
haughty, but still blatantly rich and white.
Rice is considered one of the nation's top
schools; its tuition rivals the Ivies'. Like us,
they tout their "diversity."
Would Rice's campus look like Hous-
ton's if they had an over-zealous affirmative
action policy? Probably not. The problem
here is not black or white: It's green.
I have always had mixed feelings about
affirmative action. Affirmative action was
founded on the right idea - giving an
advantage to the disadvantaged. It seems
simple enough. There's no denying that
racism is an unacceptable, intolerable and
damaging part of society. Decades after the
Civil Rights Movement, racism still lives on
- be it in the form of David Duke being
taken seriously as a politician, or suggesting
a minority received admission to the Univer-
sity solely based on their skin color, rather
than merit.
But greatest source of discrimination is
against the poor.
Take a look at the bigger picture. Minori-
ties are statistically more likely to live in
poorer areas and less likely to have health
insurance. Racism and poverty both con-
tribute to a vicious cycle, nearly devoid of
opportunity. Class mobility and education
go hand in hand. It's the stuff sociology
departments are based on. Society is institu-
tionally discriminatory against people whose
only "fault" is their economic status.
Although we live in a country of equal
opportunity, injustices due to economic sta-
tus, often affecting minorities, are ingrained
in our culture. If affirmative action was

W ith the MSA elections upon us, it
is important to consider the issues
among the propaganda spouted by candi-
dates. Candidates should be focusing on
issues that they can actually have an
impact on or at least need to take a
stance on. Here are some realistic issues
- big and small - that warrant their
consideration:
Abolishig the code
The Code of Student Conduct should
be abolished. This ridiculously vague
and overbearing code should be a top
concern for all candidates. MSA hasn't
done anything significant to combat the
unjust policies of the Code, yet last year
MSA passed a meaningless resolution
condemning sanctions against Iraq. Can-
didates can show with a plan to eliminate
the Code that they have an actual con-
cern for the students of the University by
challenging the administration on a seri-
4' us issue.
.. Tuition
MSA can help fight dramatic tuition
increases. Guaranteeing a tuition freeze
is impossible, but a united MSA could
apply pressure by lobbying in Lansing.
Tuition, both in-state and out-of-state is
already difficult to pay for many stu-
dents. Throw in raises due to inflation,
and many students are frozen out of
attending school here.
Student group funding
MSA is the chief source of funding
for many organizations, including minor-
ity groups. Groups should not feel cheat-
ed by the process, nor should it take long
to fill out paperwork and determine the
dispensing of funds. Last fall, a pro-life
group initially received significantly less
than a pro-choice group. Although this
was eventually solved, it shows the flaws
in the system. Regardless of personal
beliefs, every organization that wishes to
express itself according to its First
Amendment rights should be able to do
so. Candidates should watch the Univer-
sity of Wisconsin's pending Supreme
Court case which may end a student
group fee in tuition.
Pass/fail and drop/add deadlines
With each just a few weeks into the
"semester, students are pressed for time
when determining whether to keep a
class, drop it or take it pass/fail. Moving
these deadlines back into at least Febru-
ary would present students a greater
opportunity to evaluate a class before
acting on it. This semester's deadline (for
both pass/fail and drop/add) was January
25 - only three weeks into classes.
Wolverine Access
It's a small detail, but with so many
students up past midnight nearly every
night, Wolverine Access' operators
should consider making this invaluable
service run later than its current mid-

based on socioeconomic status, it would W
justly target the racial groups admissions
office desire, as well as overlooked whites.
Money is directly related to opportunity.
To a certain extent, knowledge and experi-
ence - in the form of SAT prep classes or
foreign language club trips - can be
bought. If universities choose to use special
privileging in its admissions process, they
should give it to students from poorer parts
of the nation. It is the financially disadvan-@
taged that are victims of the most silent dis-
crimination, and not everyone even
considers it discrimination - while no one is
blamed for being unable to change their
racial makeup, the poor are often blamed for
being poor.
I felt like a minority on Houston's cam-
pus, and it intrigued me. Persppctive is a
funny thing: I grew up in Pittsburgh in an
upscale but but urban - as in ethnic -
neighborhood. My neighbors were real
Greeks and real Latin Americans, not I'm0
"part Greek see how my skin is olive and
look at my Kappa sweatshirt" or "Jennifer
Lopez, you-only-wish Latin." Upon moving
to Ann Arbor in the third grade, my parents
claim I surveyed my new school playground
and asked: "Where are all the black chil-
dren?" I have no memory of this, but it's
funny to think I was once used to not being
in the overwhelming majority. With the
exception of vain tears when my childhood
friend's mother (who was black) informed
me my hair was too soft and slippery for the
braids and beads her daughter sported, I
thought little about race as a child.
We need affirmative action to make the
University diverse. And this affirmative
action must extend to special consideration
for those from poor areas. Ann Arbor does
not have the ethnic feel it wishes it does.
- EmilyAchenbaum can be reached via
e-mail at emilvlsa@umich.edu.

i

night time. Often, a student will need to
check a class's availability, or his/her
schedule, or use another service.
Dining Hall Food
Food service through the Residence
Halls Dining Service has always been an
issue in elections. While there have been
small changes and improvements, there
is a lot more to be done. The ability to
swipe an M-Card through twice in one
meal is a great addition, and we hope to
see even more flexibility in the meal
plans, such as meals on Sunday nights
and carrying-over of unused meals from
week to week. Some other issues that
have been raised are: Quality of food
hours of mealtimes and vegetarian
options. MSA representatives could be
advocates to the University, as some have
to a small extent in the past, to change
these things. Committees could also be
formed to study dining services at other
Universities, or to look at the possibility
of hiring an outside corporation to take
over food service.
Michigamua
The Tower takeover and the Students
of Color Coalition demands are currently
major issues at the University. It is possi-
ble the administration will ask MSA rep-
resentatives to decide whether or not to
allow Michigamua to use the space in the
Union. Candidates for MSA should
make their views on this clear.
Building Hours
A relatively new issue raised by some
candidates during this election is the
possibility of extending the building
hours of the Michigan Union, libraries
and the CCRB to 24-hour schedules.
Candidates should consider the merits
and downsides of this. While keeping
library open 24 hours could be very ben-
eficial to students who study late hours,
keeping the CCRB open 24 hours may
not be feasible or make financial sense.
Candidates should state both their views
on this and how they plan to make their
choices happen.
Affirmative Action
Affirmative Action will arguably be
the most important issue MSA will have
to deal with next year. Both lawsuits
attacking the University's affirmative
action policies are scheduled to go to
trial next year. As the official voice of
the student body, all candidates must
make their opinions clear on this.
Students complain about many of the
issues listed above on a daily basis. MSA
is also accused of being ineffective and
inefficient. The only way to change this
is for students to go and vote for candi-
dates who have a clear stance on reason-
able issues, and who have the ability and
willingness to work to make them hap-
pen. The most important thing students
can do is vote.

CHIP CULLEN

GRINDING THE NIB

Body shape and
success have no
connection
TO THE DAILY:
Michael Yung-Hsin Hu's March 7th
letter ("Thinness does equal personal
success") was truly misguided and so full
of bigotry that I feel it brought shame on
the Lni y To begin, many happy and
healthy people feel that the "whole point
Of life" is not "to succeed as much as you
can.
There are far too many aspects of life
that are not subject to change to make
their perfection a condition of mental
well-being. In order to live happily, most
people accept their own averageness or
inferiority in areas that they have little
control over.
I wouldI point out that for many peo-
ple, weight and body shape is such an
aspect of life, one over which there is lit-
tle control. While the genetics of obesity
have not been sorted out, it has been
demonstrated that obesity can be brought
on by certain mutation-causing viral
infections, and can be inherited.
A few familial cases of obesity have,
for example, been linked to a mutation in
the lepyin gene. There is also clear evi-
dence for the regulation of and misregu-
lation of hunger and metabolism in the
brain, and this regulation can not neces-
sarily be overridden by sheer willpower,
ie.. striving to meet a particular ideal.
Moreover, the expectation that aver-
age or overweight people should struggle
in vain their entire lives to meet a very
low weight goal which a few people meet

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ki UG"T OF HIS RECENT0.0.1.,1 EE
T.Z RESIGN PROM u'r OFCE'1NDRU~1 FOR
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effortlessly is unrealistic and unhealthy.
And while it is true that on the whole
America has a serious weight problem,
declaring only the very thin to be true
strivers and deserving of success is igno-
rant and unfair.
Secondly, I think it is dangerous to
think of thinner people as being generally
superior. Since when is waist size
inversely proportional to character and
worth? These ideas sadly remind me of
the eugenics movement, which supported
and excused genocide on the part of the
Nazis.
The inherent "inferiority" of certain
groups, according to this line of thought,
recommended their ostracism and eventu-
al elimination from a "superior" society.
It is sad that Hu feels average-looking or
overweight people do not deserve to "get
ahead in life" or be in the spotlight.
Apparently Hollywood feels the same

way, or there would be more average and
overweight people playing leading roles
in films and on television.
Thankfully, however, Hu happens to
be wrong about weight determining suc-
cess, because outside of Hollywood, peo-
ple tend to judge one another on true
merit. What truly determines if people
are exceptional, and whether or not
they'll succeed, is all on the inside of a
person, not on the outside.
Perhaps Hu would do everyone on
campus a favor, and send a picture of
himself'to the Daily, so that we could all
see what makes him fit to judge the
worth and ability of others solely based
on appearance. He must be very secure
about his own appearance if he can judge
others so basely.
SARA ATON
LSA SENIOR

Guns don't kill people, Keanu kills people

Fair game

Candidate spending
et the races begin. Michigan Student
Assembly elections are two weeks
away and the candidates are in full force. It
is always interesting to see the extremes
MSA candidates go to so they can win a
few more votes - free T-shirts, buttons,
coupons and professionally made posters
and flyers. When it comes to elections, how
much is too much?
Candidate spending must be carefully
monitored. The candidate or party with the
most money can afford not only a larger
mass of endorsement materials, but as well
as the opportunity to win over their fellow

must be monitored
students with free pizza and ice crcAm
coupons. Name recognition can be bought.
An enforced cap on MSA elections i a
necessity is order to keep all candidats on
an equal playing field.
The cost of campus life is already at a
level of near extortion. A student who
comes to the University on scholarships
and is on financial aid probably could tot
finance a campaign the way a student o
is backed by wealthy parents coujd. oi-
sions must be made to make elections qual
and fair. Candidates should compee o a
merit base level instead of a monetary one

A fter those chaps blew the roof off of
-iCoiuumbine High School before slaugh-
terina themselves, the national media tried
to piace the blame for their behavior on
mov ies and video games. I thought that the
blame was misguided, and unfair. I've seen
Babe 2: Pig in the City, and I've played
Fro ger. and there is nothing in either of
those two tremendously amusing medium of
entertainment that
would incite me to
commit a violent act.r
The pig sings. for
Christ's sake. But I
guess I've been
w'atching the wrong
miovies, and phDlagv
the wrong game. ute
over the pfirst
break I had the chancee
to take in TheStC s atrx
f_ the first time, andnDaydn
p lay H louse ot' t he
Dead 2 for the first Horn
time. \\hoa. Hrn grpy
Tou know how
w hen ou were hitte you had a tough
ime distinguish ing reality from make-
bel iev (like Keanu). Santa Claus, Snuffle-
upagus and Kelsey Girarme r - you never

Cancun's central Pennsylvania's many glori-
ous shopping malls, and found myself in the
old arcade while waiting for my Sbarro's
pizza. I usually stick to the comfortable con-
fines of the Classics section - where Frog-
ger and his buddies shine - but this House
of the Dead caught my eye, and I had
recalled hearing a paranoid mother speak
out on the news against this particular game.
So I changed my dollar bills to quarters and
began playing, as my pizza got cold. Holy
zombies, batman! The game is fun, no
doubt. It's addictive, too, and eerily graphic.
There is a plethora of these games out
there - in arcades, on PCs and on Playsta-
tion/N64 - and they put a gun in the play-
er's hand, allows him to shoot at remarkably
real-looking characters (yes, even the zom-
bies), and provides a reset button, as well as
a pause and a power off button. There are no
consequences. Death and slaughter are
shown in a favorable light.
And for the most part, that's all fine. But
a 6-year-old boy doesn't understand. This
latest incident of violence among the unbe-
lievably young happened right here in
Michigan, and for a kid whose pop is in the
slammer and whose legal guardian - his
uncle - is a drug dealer, a lack of proper
parenting and family support rendered his

first supported prosecuting the boy as a
adult. It's not like he found a gun and wa
waving in around the playground, showing it
off. He walked to school with it in his pock-
et - clearly understanding, at the very least,
that he needed to conceal the weapon, as
what he was doing was wrong.
Youth killings are not going to end any
time soon. You know, there was once a time
when you had to be really strong physically
to kill another person. As comedian Chris
Rock affirms, "the best part of having a gun
is not having to work out." Well, that's a litb
tle unsettling. There should be absolutely n
possible way for a 6-year-old to be able to
kill anyone they please. The same should
apply for 30 year olds, but one step at a
time. Guns are portable killing machines
that give unwarranted power to those indi-
viduals who possess them. The point is sim-
ple and obvious: Guns are scary as hell. I am
not a proponent of censorship of video
games and movies, nor am I in favor of
repealing the Second Amendment to the
United States Constitution. A mature,
responsible adult can do whatever he or she
pleases, whenever he or she pleases.
But gun ownership and parent status are
so great a responsibility. Video games and
movies are not evil - they're fun - but

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