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October 18, 1999 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-18

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday. October 18, 1999

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Squelching the scourge of teenage hormones

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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 Dailvy

Our parties, our rules
Student. responsibility prevents tragedies

ex today is different than it used to be. A
few decades ago, when most of us were
nothing more than a glint in our parents' eyes.
the playing field was not so dangerous. Back
then, pregnancy was still an issue, but sex was
not lethal because of
this great thing called
But nowadays,
things are different.
Sex is a high-risk
activity that can kill
you - kind of like
drunk driving or jay
walking near Pizza
When you combine
this with the fact that
teens are getting Scott
involved with sex ear- Hunter
ier than ever - and Roll Throgh
getting pregnant h
younger than ever -
disaster is bound to
erupt. And it has.
Fully aware of this catastrophe, the federal
government is seeking to control this deadly
scourge of teenage hormones. That is why
George W Bush and a growing number of
politicians want to throw out conventional sex
education programs to instead promote a sin-
gle message to America's youth: Keep your
clothes on until your wedding night.
Several states have already made the just-
say-no approach a policy in some classrooms.
Five other states have even required that all
schools teach self-denial exclusively. All
across the country, the push for "abstinence-
only education" is gaining steam.
Backers of the revolution say that the new
sex education will curb teen pregnancies and
STDs by giving kids an unambiguous pro-
abstinence message.

They claim that this approach contrasts
many of the hypocritical and flawed compre-
hensive sex-ed programs that tell students to
wait, but then talk about the efficacy of con-
traception for teens who choose not to wait.
These sexual education activists are fueled
by S50 million that the federal government has
decided to distribute over five years to states
that establish abstinence-only programs. To
qualify for the grants, states must set up pro-
grams that "(have) as (their) exclusive pur-
pose, teaching the social, psychological and
health gains to be realized by abstaining from
sexual activity." These programs must also
"teach that mutually faithful monogamous
relationship in context of marriage is the
expected standard of human sexual activity"
(By the way, I am quoting this directly from
the grant itself and I am not making this up.)
The argument seems persuasive. If the
schools can just convince teens to control the
tidal eruptions of their little adolescent hor-
mones until marriage, maybe then the United
States will see a drop in teen pregnancy and
STD rates. We'll have no more single teen par-
ents languishing on welfare. And there will
certainly be no more young people succumb-
ing to AIDS or any other STD. Perhaps this is
exactly how things would work in an ideal
world. But there is just one problem
This is the real world. This is the world
where over one-third of 15-year-olds are sexu-
ally active. This is the same world where the
average guy doesn't marry until age 27 and the
average woman doesn't tie the knot until she's
25. Here, kids need contraceptive information,
and when no one gives it to them, they'll either
get diseases or they'll proliferate like rabbits.
Admittedly, the United States has a huge
problem with teen pregnancy. Last year, the
teen birthrate in the United States was much
higher that that of other industrialized coun-
tries: about 57 births per 1,000 15- to 19-year-

olds compared to 29 in Great Britain, I I in
Germany, and four in the Netherlands. Clearly.
American teens are promiscuous and unchaste
when compared to little British and Dutch
kids, right? Wrong!
It turns out that the rate of teen sexual activ-
ity is about the same in every industrialized
country - that is, about half are doing it by age
18. But, according to the Alan Gutmacher
Institute, a New York-based research firm.
"birthrates are lower in countries where teens
have easy and indisputable access to contra-
ceptives and where teens who use contracep-
tives are considered to be responsible rather
than promiscuous."
Specifically, we are talking about countries
like Great Britain, Germany and the
Clearly, the United States would do better in.
controlling the problems of teen sex if it fol-
lowed the lead of other nations in commend-
ing teens who use protection, instead of cast-
ing them as lusty little deviants. This approach
will send no more of an ambiguous message
than listening to a pro-abstinence message at
school, and then running home to an hour of
Lil' Kim videos afterward.
Obviously, there is nothing wrong with
including an abstinence-based message' in a
comprehensive sex education program - one
that teaches abstinence alongside contracep-
tive use. In fact, for young people abstinence is
probably best because it will not only protect
teens from pregnancy and disease, but it will
also protect them from the emotional and psy-
chological trauma sometimes associated with
However, politicians and school officials
must fix their eyes on the reality that teens do
have sex. Chasing ideals will only get activists
so far.
- Scott Hunter can be reached over
e-mail at sehunterg umich.edu.

L ast Friday commemorated the one-
year anniversary of the death of LSA
first-year student Courtney Cantor. This
tragedy shocked the entire school and
altered social behavior at the University.
There are many lessons to be learned
from this horrible tale.
Members of the University community
should continue to recognize the tragedy
and take every possible precaution not to
let history repeat itself. But the Ann
Arbor Police Department and University
administration must be careful not to let
the panic from this tragedy turn into
unnecessary, oppressive anti-alcohol
Many new regulatory policies con-
cerning alcohol use on campus attempt to
promote awareness and responsibility.
But it is not the police's job to act as par-
ents to the students.
The Ann Arbor Police Department has
launched a witch hunt on local stores and
bars. By authorizing undercover police
officers to investigate bars and parties,
the department has attached an unneces-
sary fear and stigma to alcohol. This just
makes binge drinking seem more daring
and attractive to students, and violates
their rights.
The University administration, on the
other hand, has taken some positive steps
to prevent such tragedies.
University Health Services now pro-
vides incoming students with literature
containing directions on caring for
friends who are intoxicated and also
includes emergency phone numbers as

well as transportation information.
Royster Harper, interim vice president
for student affairs, has met with many
campus groups to discuss caring for
friends and lowering alcohol abuse levels.
The administration should continue these
proactive steps rather than persecute
responsible students who have a few
The student body is the most powerful
force when it comes to dealing with pre-
venting alcohol-related deaths. So far,
students have done a good job making
parties safer around campus. Information
about student safety hit new students at
summer orientation where alcohol aware-
ness discussions and skits put on by the
Resrep theatre group were used to edu-
cate students about safe partying.
A plan released recently by the
Interfraternity Council strictly prohibit
first-year students from drinking alcohol
during welcome week and during rush
activities. In addition, any fraternity
caught in violation of these rules faces
possible probation and other conse-
Fraternities also have numbers to cab
companies and night walk listed at par-
ties. Students are designated to be the
rotating "sober person" who ensures that
people make it home safely, don't leave
with containers of alcohol and don't drink
and drive.
Students seem to have learned from
this tragedy. Hopefully, the message to
drink responsibly will continue to be



o~f W'iors 1'

Experiencing science
UROP has tremendous potential

t's always nice to hear when one of the
programs at the University is nationally
recognized. Last week, The White House
bestowed such an honor to the
Undergraduate Research Opportunity
Program for its efforts to help minorities,
women and people with disabilities pursue
careers in technical, scientific and engi-
neering fields. In addition to gaining the
recognition the 11-year-old program rightly
deserves, UROP will also receive $10,000
in grant money. UROP provides a vital ser-
vice to the University - by combining top-
notch research and undergraduate learning.
One of the reasons that the University is
such a strong school is the emphasis it
places on research. With programs like
UROP gaining more members and national
recognition, it is only a matter of time
before more of the positive effects of grad-
uate research trickle down to often-neglect-
ed undergraduates.
UROP gives undergraduate students the
opportunity to experience research by
working on a project with faculty. It is also
a great opportunity for students to get to
know a faculty member that would other-
wise have been inaccessible. As well as this
contact, there is the chance for students to
get to know a junior or senior peer adviser
in bi-weekly peer group meetings. These
meetings are an attempt to relate the
research that students are undertaking, but
they have become one of the weaknesses of
the program.
Many UROP students dread their peer
advising sessions, but are forced to attend
because it counts toward a portion of their
araI*' Thesesn s ions are often hnring and

discuss or view for that week. Groups are
selected based on preference expressed in
the UROP application, but often students
find projects that don't fit into the category
of their peer sessions. This is allowed, if not
encouraged, but it does not add to the cohe-
siveness that the groups are meant to estab-
lish within the wider program of more than
2,000 UROP students. With the vastness of
the University an issue on the minds of so
many students, UROP members need all the
opportunities they can to meet other people
of similar interests. And UROP is meant to
be one of those great opportunities. So per-
haps the peer groups should be made after
projects are selected.
Another way to make the peer groups
work better is to structure them from with-
in the organization itself and not entitle peer
advisors the great autonomy they are now
granted. Some kind of structure to the meet-
ings, from lectures by professors to more of
the UROP-wide events like the showing of
Creature from the Black Lagoon at the
Michigan Theater, would better the manda-
tory meetings.
It's also important to keep people inter-
ested in the goal of UROP. The University
receives the highest amount of federal
research funding of any school in the coun-
try, yet is not ranked as highly as other top
research universities. It is not only the spe-
cific programs that must work together to
further the University's research position,
but also that of groups like UROP. More
must be done to show the benefits of
research by rewarding students with more
than just credit or work study funding. This
canital can heln make UROP stronger and

Reader: Drag show
was undeserving of
Once again, the Michigan Daily has wast-
ed its time in doing another puff piece for the
Gay and Lesbian community. In trying to add
credibility to the liberal agenda, the Daily tells
a candy-coated tale of the "Conceptions of
Drag" freak show ("LBGT pageant explores
gender norms"). Last time I checked, drag
queen shows are not the typical front-page
material of a respectable newspaper. I can not
fathom how affairs of the University's self-
proclaimed quers can take precedence over
major international crises in other countries.
For those of you who believe this letter is
an attack of the gay community - think oth-
erwise. I am simply exercising my First
Amendment rights, as the Daily so highly
cherishes. But why the Daily feels it's our
business that Joe Schmoe is shopping at
Victoria's Secret for himself. I will never com-
prehend. These anti-conservative shows and
articles in the Daily are a complete waste of
space and time. I do not want my tuition even
remotely entering the pockets of the people
who coordinate these "in-your-not-so-liberal-
face" shows for cross-dressers, transvestites,
and others who belong on the Jerry Springer
Big Ten is no longer
dominated by a few
In his article, "What's gone wrong with the
Big Ten?" (IOil3/99) Josh Kleinbaum poses
the wrong question. Rather, the correct ques-
tion is "what's going right with the Big Ten?"
There is finally a competitive balance in
our conference, the likes of which have been
missing over the prior three decades.
This balance creates much more excite-
ment and enthusiasm for a wider array of Big
Ten fans, where no longer is the conference
winner year-in and year-out one of the same,
predictable two teams.
The days of the "Big Two, Little Eight" are
long gone, and the addition of both Penn State
and the NCAA 85 scholarship limitation guar-
antee this. This year, teams like Wisconsin,
Michigan State, Purdue and Minnesota each
have the talent to compete with the "big boys"
and one may even (gasp!) win the conference
crown. How refreshing. Despite actually hav-
ing eleven teams, our conference now more
than ever truly resembles its moniker "the big

y r -

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refute Mark Powers's letter ("Offensive
art should not be funded," 101131'99). He
begins by questioning whether or not cer-
tam work is, in fact, art. Art is what you
make of it. I am not a big fan of modern
art, but there are people who contend that
two orange lines on a white field is a
work of art.
He then declares that the people pre-
venting the display are "enforcing the
standards of society." That is a brilliant
deduction. The standards of society dic-
tate that using creativity to depict an icon
is wrong? Maybe the government should
have followed the "standards of society"
during the '60s and not passed the Civil
Rights Acts, too. The standard was not the
same. Standards change and ought not be
government enforced.
Powers' final argument is perhaps his
most frightening. He claims that public
officials such as Mayor Rudy Giuliani are
elected to "uphold the standards of soci-
ety." What are these? Where is the list of
standards that must be followed? Where
are they written so we can know what is
legal and what the First Amendment fails
to protect? I do not recall there being an
addendum to the First Amendment to the
effect of "unless New York City's mayor
does not approve," do you?
Even if such a ludicrous amendment
were passed, Giuliani is about the last
person who ought to be put on a pedestal
as "upholding standards of society"
(much less ranking them, as Powers has
taken the burden of doing). Giuliani's
police force shot an unarmed man in his
home 41 times. Several weeks later, your
righteous upholder of the mores of soci-
ety admitted that maybe his Gestapo had
possibly stepped a little over the line. That
was about as far as your hero's apology
went. Is that the standard that we ought to
be living under in the United States?
The standards of society are subjec-
tive. It is not the place of our elected offi-
cials to shelter us from what they think is
too much. If the government is going to
spend public funds on art, I say that it is
not our elected official's place to choose
which artists "fit." Money for displays
should be used at the museum's discre-

Letter missed the
benefits of
affirmative action
I would like to respond to the letter to
the editor titled "Affirmative Action
Detrimental to 'U"'(10/11/99). As a "true
advocate" of civil rights, Dustin Lee
would realize that although all men are
created equal, very often they are not
treated as equals. As a "true advocate" of -
civil rights, Lee should recognize that
affirmative action is a solution and not
the cause of denied opportunities.
Lee is tired of hearing people "wah,
wah, cry, moan, tear" because obviously
he is not a "true advocate" of civil rights.
If he were, he would address the sensitive
subject of affirmative action with more
respect and less insult.
Lee believes that many minorities'
"took spots away from more qualified
applicants." The ideology of privilege in
Lee's statement is the very concept affir-
mative action attempts to counteract. If
Lee truly understood that there are other
factors than race that determine the
admission of applicants, why would he
state that minorities don't "deserve" to -'
attend the Universitydbecauserthey are
Why would he assume they are not
qualified? Probably for the same reason
he does not understand the need for affir-
mative action. Lee does not understand
the oppression that has historically
excluded minorities from humanity - not
to mention education. It is clear that he
does not understand the oppression (eco-
nomic and racial) that continues to segre-
gate people today in housing and educa-
tion. If he did understand, he would not
use phrases like "deserve the right" or
"took spots" or the even more offensive
"disintegration of Ann Arbor." He would9'
understand that diversity is a part of
I understand that some people are not
aware of the state of affairs for minorities
- on the verge of a new millennium the
struggle still continues!
Mv anoloiies to those minorities that



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