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October 25, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-25

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday. October 25, 1999

CIie £id$§&ux lai&g

Some days of action the rest of the'L

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

' d , .
,. .,:

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

Unless otherwi ise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majorI of1 the
Daily s editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect
the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Survey s ays:Binge
Excessive drinking leads to many problems

O ince upon a time, the Rex. Jesse Jackson
came up uyith an idea to help rally stu-
dents around the cause o! aftirmatix e action.
One day when students and faculty would
storm academia in support of affirmative
action to show the
world that the policy
would not go the way
of Elizabeth Dole's
presidential campaign
quietly. It went off3
with relatively few
hitches here, despite
some apparent logical
flaws, and garnished
media attention infre-
quentlv rivaled by stu-
dent events.
And then it hap-. Jack
pened again. And Schillaci
again. And then the
National Young
Women s Day of
Action taught us about
the evils of Diet Coke. This past week
brought another group of easily excitable
protesters for three different day of action-
type events: one about sweatshop labor, one
of the plain vanilla affirmative action variety
and one concerning police brutality. Students
have grown weary of the format, with many
responding to each new announcement with,
Do we have to care?" in the same tone com-
monly reserved for "Is this conna be on the
test' ?
So let's make a change. We, the apathetic
masses. should rise up and have our own days
of action that will be well attended and fi.
The following are merely a starting point.
Feel free to come up with your own and let
me know about them.
(Note to readers: The following contains
tongue-in-cheek remarks and generaliza-

tions. Read: ucuim. I understand that this is
an unappreciated. misunderstood language
dex ice on this campus. but try x'our best.)
The National Day of Action tbr "TRL'
Loxers - Crowd excerpt:"I wanna vote for
the Backstreet Bovs' 'Larger Than Life'
because it's a great video and they're really
hot. Yeah!!! Woo hoo!!! I love you,
In celebration of MTVs latest let-the-
hour show that every student will soon find
themselves staring at. dazed after their
midterms. hundreds could gather near the
Cube (it provides a better photo op than the
Diag). Speakers would include former VJ
Kennedy. fresh from a fight with her hair
brush. covering such important topics as
"Keeping good music and music by non-
white performers off MTV by mobilizing the
suburban teen phone-in voting population"
and "'How to keep looking like a frat boy well
after your 25th birthday" (the latter, of
course. being delivered by Carson Daly).
MTV, desperate to fill its time with anything
besides "Road Rules" marathons, would
broadcast the DoA live and replay it at 5. 8
and I I p.m.'°
The National Day of Action for Those
Who Overuse the Word "Racism" -
Crowd excerpt: "What, you don't care about
Mumia Abu-Jamal. the target of a conspiracy
to frame him for murder ?You are a racist!!!"
Many on this campus throw around the
word "racist" like normal people throw
around the word "the." It started as a left-
ist response to the attack on affirmative
action, but it has spread to conservatives
calling the University's admissions policy
the big 'R' word. This day of action will
bring all such persons together for a series
of lectures, to be held somewhere far away
from the usual paths of most students.

f' might enjoy
{ While this obv iously lacks a mass draw,
the real purpose of this DoA is to simply
keep the crazies amay from the rest of
campus for a day. ) Lecture topics will
include "Impoverishing political dis-
course by using loaded buzz words to the
detriment of all" and "Self-righteousness
through demonization."
The National Day of Action in
Celebration of Sorority Bid Day - Crowd
excerpt: "Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my
God! Like. what house are you in? Oh my
God, that's, like, the best house on campus!"
Though bid day is a tumultuous time as it
is, the new sisters would gather on the Diag
to begin forming their bonds early in the
day before the evening's events get under-
way. Speech topics would include "Capri
pants: How, when and why" and "Fooling
the bouncer at Rick's." Other activities will
include three hours of SUV driving, horn
honking and mindless howling out the win-
dows in celebration of the bid receipts.
Sponsors would include Parliament
Cigarettes. Stucchi's and Cava Java.
The National Cellular Phone Day of
Action - Crowd excerpt not available: inter-
cepting cell phone calls is illegal.
What better symbol to epitomize our cam-
pus than the middle-class status symbol that
is the cellular phone. To pay homage to these
"fuin toys. users would dial a special toll-free
number and listen to a speech entitled.
"Misusing communication technology to win
friends and influence people"' delivered by a
representative of Dale Carnegie. Other activ-
ities will include participants screaming into
their cell phones while walking across the
- The National Day ofAction in
Contempt ofJack Schillaci olgani:ing conm-
mittee can he reached otver e-mail at
/schilla umich. edit.


he University Substance Abuse
Research Center last week released
the results of a study investigating the
binge-drinking habits of University stu-
dents. The results were somewhat alarm-
ing: Out of a representative sample of
2,824 students, 45 percent showed charac-
teristics of binge drinking, defined by the
survey as consuming four or more drinks
in a row for women and five or more for
men. Reported consequences of frequent
binge drinking include missing classes,
committing embarrassing acts, getting
intorarguments and endangering others by
driving while under the influence. But
while'this is clearly a dangerous behavior
pattern, the University should not contin-
ue to deal with the problem in the way it
has addressed campus drinking in recent
Binge drinking has been a hot-button
topic on campus for the last year or so. In
the wake of several drinking-related
deaths at universities around the nation,
the University has cracked down on
underage alcohol use in an effort to curb
binge drinking. Last year, former Vice
President for Student Affairs Maureen
Hartford appointed a task force to deal
with the problem. However, the
University's tactics have been less than
fair - working with the Ann Arbor Police
Department to conduct sting operations in
establishments serving alcohol and con-
sidering alerting parents if students
receive an alcohol-related conviction. For
the most part, University students are
legal adults, who have the right to make
their own decisions. It should not be the

University's function to conduct a witch
It is also important to note that the sur-
vey's definition of binge drinking - and
the University's official definition - is
somewhat arbitrary. Instead of consider-
ing only the number of drinks consumed,
an accurate definition would also take into
account the drinker's age, weight and
other statistics. Under a more precise rule,
the problem may not seem as widespread.
But no matter the percentage of stu-
dents who engage in binge drinking, it
cannot be denied that it is a serious prob-
lem that endangers both oneself and oth-
ers. Although the University's method of
combating the problem is misguided, it
must still find a way to help put a stop to
irresponsible drinking. In light of the
findings of the survey, the University
would do well to put more of its vast
resources into educating students about
the dangers of alcohol abuse - for
instance, by instituting a program at orien-
tation to warn incoming students about the
consequences to which excessive drinking
can lead.
It is the responsibility of students to
use caution in their own behavior. Those
who choose to drink should be careful to
do so responsibly. But at the same time, it
is not the University's job to act as a
watchdog, monitoring students' behavior.
Instead, it should ensure that its students
are fully aware of the effects and conse-
quences of their own actions. This solu-
tion to the problem of binge drinking is far
more in keeping with the University's role
as an institution of higher learning.


I - I

Soft on reform
Filibuster defeats campaign finance legislation

L ast week, in what has become a yearly
ritual in Washington, D.C., the U.S.
Senate again defeated a bipartisan cam-
paign finance reform bill drafted by Sen.
John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Russ
Feingold of Wisconsin. The bill was 'not
defeated by lack of majority support. This
year, as in past years, the McCain-Feingold
legislation drew the support of a majority of
senators but was again defeated by a fili-
buster led by Sen. Mitch McConnell of
Kentucky. While the House of
Representatives passed a campaign finance
bill earlier this year by a wide margin, the
Senate again failed to muster the 60 votes
needed to overcome McConnell's filibuster.
The continued blocking of campaign
finance reform by the Senate is an affront to
the democratic ideals of this nation and is a
clear example of how many lawmakers have
become obsessed with raising money.
McCain and Feingold did not even try to
pass the House's version of the campaign
bill, but in an attempt to garner more sup-
port, stripped every provision from their
original bill except the one banning soft
money, which is unregulated large dona-
tions to political parties. This move won a
few additional votes for the bill, but still not
The usual argument used against cam-
paign finance reform is that it restricts free-
dom of speech. But it is difficult to see how
corporations and special interest groups
giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to
political parties can be construed as speech.
It is a blatant form of bribery. Companies
do not give money to politicians to exercise
free sneech Thev contrihte because it

The current campaign finance system is
not only a corrupting force on our legisla-
tors, but a corrupting force on democracy.
When the only way to have one's voice
heard is to shell out hundreds of thousands
of dollars, not many people will be heard.
Campaign finance reform is not about
abridging free speech, it is about allowing
the vast majority of Americans who do not
make exorbitant campaign donations to
have a voice in their government. To contin-
ue to allow this buying of our government
by a few big interest groups is a travesty,
especially given that a majority in both
houses of congress and the overwhelming
majority of Americans want to see the cam-
paign finance system changed.
Our legislators today are spending more
and more time raising money and less and
less time legislating. Their primary con-
cerns are no longer with their constituents,
but their contributors. McCain-Feingold
was a chance to start bringing this terrible
system under control. But a dedicated
minority, unfortunately including Michigan
Sen. Spencer Abraham, has again derailed
this modest proposal.
To clean up the system of financing
campaigns, lawmakers such as Abraham
need to hear from their constituents about
the issue. While large amounts of polling
data show that a clear majority of
Americans favor campaign finance reform,
few hold it as a top priority. To end the giv-
ing of these vast sums of money, and thus
special interest control of our government,
people need to contact lawmakers like
Abraham and make sure they know this
issue is imnortant to them and they will be

BAMN's rhetoric
doesn't help debate
I have to seriously question the student
group the Coalition to Defend Affirmative
Action By Any Means Necessary ( BAMNN)}.
After reading the editorial in Thursday's
Daily. "Learn Through Action:" I found a
few problems wvith the group.
First of all. let neestate that an ettrt to
increase (ixersitv in the schools is a <-ood
idea. But I do not like the concept of by any
means necessary. This type of rhetoric
should scare people you should almost
never do something by any means neces-
sary. More frilhtenmie to me, however. were
sonie of the comments in the editorial:
"If this attack is not met with a powerful.
mass defense. America's public schools will
be permanently resegregated. This must not
be allowved to happen."'
There are two things that bother me
about this comment. First. it is incorrect to
state that without affirmative action our
schools vouild be segregated.
Segregation. as practiced up to the '60s
was a deliberate practice in which black stu-
dents were removed from schools. and put
in their own separate schools. This obvious-
lV would not happen. since without affir-
mative action it would be impossible to
pull out certain students because the
admissions officers wouldn 't know what
race they belonged to.
This concern. though, is secondary to
what really bothered me - the attitude
the members of BAMN are sending,
wxhich is that they can't succeed without
affirmative action. It seems to me that
members of BAMN are saying that with-
out affirmative action they would not be
able to get into schools.
If I were a minority student I would
really be offended by this comment. I
know quite a few minorities students that
have no problem succeeding with or with-
out affirmative action.
I don't like the attitude that prevails
from that comment that says segregation
would be the result of no affirmative
action. They basically are saying that the
only reason that minorities are in these
schools is because of affirmative action
and without it they would not be here
(hence the resegregation). That is a terri-
ble attitude to take. not to mention being
completely untrue. No one is ever going to
succeed with that type of outlook. Perhaps
the first action BAMN should take is comn-


pletely reevaluating what they are trying to
do. then they can worry about what else is
WIC should look at
why men buy shirts
It is much to my chagrin that I watch the
Women's Issues Commission gear up to
combat the "heinous problem" of the blue
shirts. Unfortunately, most politically mind-
ed organizations. now WIC included. are
more interested in curing the symptoms of
the disease rather than the disease itself.
If there is serious problem with men
wearing shirts with a particular offensive
slogan, then perhaps we should look at why
certain men are buying those T-shirts.
Perhaps we will find a deeper force at
work in our society. If the certain men that
bought those shirts were publicly ridiculed
and attacked. are they going to suddenly sym-
pathize with the issues that face women?.
Doubtful. Instead. their attitudes will sur-
face in other ways. perhaps even more
demeaning or downright spiteful the next time
WIC could be one of the first groups to do
something radical with their political beliefs:
educate and attack the problem.not the symp-

Objectification of
women isn't funny
This is in response to the letter, "T-shirt
opponents need, to learn to take a joke"
(10!21199). I wonder just how many males,
or females for that matter, would agree with
Scott Gordon's sentiments. I'd venture to
say a good many students who wouldn't
wear the shirt themselves do not feel the T-
shirt slogan should be that much of an issue.
Oh. but it is.
In his letter, Gordon made the claim that
if the message was reversed so that it was
aimed at male first-year students, no one
would be upset. He misses the significant
fact that it is women, not men, that are
objectified in our society. Society sends us
the message that thinness is a desired
attribute for both women and men, but who
suffers more from eating disorders ?
Who is bombarded, from magazines to
television to movies, with female images
that portray thinness to the extreme as the
only way a woman can hope to be desir-
able? In our society, racism, sexism and var-
ious other forms of discrimination are a
painful part of our reality.
In the least, it would be comforting if
these stereotypes were not blatantly adver-
tised and therefore encouraged. I'm offend-
ed. and I hope that some realize it isn't a
very funny joke." and we shouldn't "sit
back and laugh" about something that con-
tributes to the objectification of women.



UROP peer meetings play an important role

The staff of the Undergraduate Research
Opportunity Program always welcomes
positive publicity and constructive criti-
cism. The editorial published on 10/18/99
made some rather uncomplimentary state-
ments that we would like to address. We
peer advisers feel that the bi-monthly peer
group meetings constitute one of the pro-
..._-_.- - .......1-..

The editorial states that meetings are
"understructured" and that peer advisors
ought not be given "the great autonomy they
are now granted" In fact, meetings are highly
structured. with peer advisors being required
to conduct at least two meetings concerning
diversity and research ethics, and their semes-
ter long syllabus and bi-monthly meeting
mae af- r:- al . - ant it,1CA .xri . th

dlude having similar interests. A student
who researches the ethics of cloning and a
student who actually works on cloning
obviously have some underlying similari-
ties in the scope of their interests.
The suggestions offered to correct these
perceived problems are either already uti-
lized or counterproductive. Peer advisors
nira :vinvtesnrnaccn .-to cn.e t.the.


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