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November 30, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-30

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4 -- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 30, 1999
420 Maynard Street HEATHER KAMINS
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 Editor in Chief
daily.letters@umich.edu

Edited and managec by
students at the
University of Michigan

Moo'.

JEFFREY KOSSEFF
DAVID WALLACE
Editorial Page Editors

'Jnless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority offthe
Dailys editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect
the opinion of The Michigan Dailv.
FRO THE AILY
Givw us a break
.Students would benefit from a fall vacation

Formula One for
A s. l ish orging ourselvs on
Thanksgising lefto ers, we'll put the
dishes away. Hand me that half-eaten bowl
of stuffing. Really, if you've had enough.
let it go. Put the drumstick down. Take
away the bowl of
beets, the masheds
potatoes, the mushy
yams. Wash the
gravy off the table-
cloth. What's this'?
Something left on
the table for you?
Of course, there's
something on the
table for you. Term
papers. Fat. obstinate
term papers who
look like they feasted D
on several courses of Wallace
turkey and mashed
potatoes and washed
them down with a
pitcher of gravy. They've gotten bigger
and fouler looking.
That's because we let them loose.
They've had months to eat since we first
heard of them. They have fed on our pro-
crastination and have snacked on our anx-
iety. Now they've finally grown to full size
as they polished off Thanksgiving with
you. All our time. devoured.
Now we've got several of the angry
varmints running circles around us and
causing the kind of widespread panic not
seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis. What
can we do'?
Search through table scraps for that
wishbone and give it a pull. Eat some more
of that 24-hour fruit salad and see if it
keeps you up 24 hours. If it does, eat some
more. You're gonna need it.
This time of the year would be more tol-

term papers: Write now!
erable if everyone were in our same gravy ation. Those reasons are like Portugal on
boat. But they're not: In every class. the Iberian Peninsula of our pressured
there's some no-good do-gooder already time.
done with the term paper. Get this: He's The larger chunk stems from perfection-
been doing a little bit each week. Or she ism and paranoia. Like a Formula One
wrapped it up over the Thanksgiving holi- crew tackles a car in the pits, so do we
day while the tryptophan in your blood- revise our papers when they're in the pits.
stream left you prone like a mainframe We don't want this paper hitting the wall in
leveled by Y2K. turn four. so we've got to check the tires.
I believe Mulder and Scully should open And we don't want to run out of gas with a
an X-file on these people. Something's not lap left, so we've got to add some fuel.
quite right. Most people collapse through We take it right up to the limit until ou4
the doorways of their apartments after last read-through equals the time of a Mika
spending more than 12 hours at classes Hakkinen tire change. "Wow, 15 seconds,
and then work. After a hard day, I hit the he's outta there fast!" We floor the gas and
canvas faster than a stooge in a Don King off we go to turn in those papers.
fight. What's keeping them going? Coffee, Even if I could change the way most of
Coca-Cola, cocaine? I want a full investi- us do our papers - and eliminate all that
gation, and then maybe I'll have what stress - I'm not sure I would. Sometimes
they're having. the pressure pushing us to our limit makes
It's not just those students handing in us better. In sports, it's called coming
their papers in November making it tough. through in the clutch.
It's the complete variance of when papers In the real world, it's called normal. If
are due. Because invariably your room- the boss wants something done, he or she
mate's papers are due on different dates wants it done now. AtSI? Dilbert. When
than yours, and things get ugly. car trouble arises, it can't wait. How often
Your roommate says, "Oh, you've got a do you see adults out of college with
big paper due tomorrow. Glad I'm not you. months to plan how they'll tackle their
Mine's due next Friday." I believe this problems? Rarely. Taxes, maybe, but
statement occurs frequently throughout notice most of them wait until April 14 to
campus and leads to relationships strained do them.
on par with Latrell Sprewell and P.J. If it were tip to me, I'd eliminate the
Carlesimo. looming prospect of term papers from our
Then the plague continues as your syllabi. I might be crazy, but if most of ui
roommate savors watching television, tak- don't do them until the last few days
ing time to eat and having the nerve to they're due, why not just assign them the
sleep while your fingers suffer over a key- first day of class - due the next week -
board. You're like Tantalus, and the god and save us the nagging worries building
you offended is time; everything you want all semester? Too much last-minute pres-
so close, but just out of reach. sure? Most of us spent high school train-
But I think for a lot of us, our procrasti- ing for it anyway.
nation stems from factors other than sits- - David Wallace can be reached over
ply putting the papers off for fun or relax- e-mail at davidinsrmwutmich.edtt.

s the taste of turkey lingers on the
tongue, students trudge back to Ann
Arbor from the fall semester's first and
last four-day weekend. With only two
weeks left until the beginning of final
exams and the start of a healthy binge of
study, the recently completed vacation
may be students' last time for intensive
rest and relaxation before celebrating the
holidays. The Thanksgiving vacation is
far too short and late' in the semester to
count as a significant break from rigorous
study. The University needs to institute an
earlier, more substantial holiday to com-
bat college stress.
Thanksgiving is criticized for being
the first break of the school year because
it falls after most of the academic semes-
ter has passed. Often it is the only time
students who live far from Ann Arbor
receive enough vacation time to excuse a
trip home.
Two and a half months are a long time
spent away from family and hometown
friends and many take advantage of the
shortened week in November to travel
home. The Thanksgiving break is too late
to be the only vacation from school, espe-
cially since most will once again go home
between semesters.
Too often, schoolwork consumes every
aspect of students' lives. The University is
far from a commuter school, and students
frequently immerse themselves in the cul-
ure of college life. Yet, a great irony of
tife in Ann Arbor is that although the city
-s brimming with cultural and education-
1 opportunities, students have neither the
time nor the energy to participate in them.
A midterm fall semester break gives
students choosing to stay in Ann Arbor

the ability to explore the depths of the
city, not to mention time to relax, sleep or
work without the interruption of classes.
The University is often a leader in
higher education innovation, but this time
it must take the lead of other colleges and
create a true fall break. Many schools -
including Princeton, Notre Dame and
New York University - have breaks ear-
lier than Thanksgiving and failed to expe-
rience any visible decrease in academic
standards. Though other colleges' actions
alone should not dictate the University's
conduct, the fact that other prestigious
institutions value a midterm break in the
fall gives validity to any argument for
such a holiday.
Creating a fall semester break necessi-
tates compensationfor days lost. Starting
the semester earlier can make up for vaca-
tion time spent away from classes. For
example, this year classes started after the
Labor Day weekend on Sept. 8.
Departments like the Medical School and
the School of Dentistry start classes in the
middle of August. A break in the middle
of a semester is more substantial than a
few days lost in the large gap between
winter and fall semester.
Breaks reinvigorate students. They
give hope in an academic system that
sometimes seems bleak and never-ending,
while making a college semester much
easier to stomach. It is difficult to find a
person willing to turn down a sanctioned
vacation. The benefits of a midterm fall
semester holiday outweigh the slight
inconvenience of starting school a few
days earlier. These arguments all pose the
question: Why does the University need a
break in March and not in October?

iETTERS TO
THE EIO
WTO policies do

CHIP CULLEN

GRINDINC

E N IB

" _ __

Free installation
DIA should not censor art exhibit

M aya Angelou, J.D. Salinger, Elvis
Presley and the Beatles -- what do
these people have in common'? Besides'
being legendary artists in their respective
fields, they are bound by a more dubious
connection. All of these artists have been
the object of censorship at some point in
their careers. Censorship is a persistent
threat to the artistic community, and it
recently hit home when the Detroit
Institute of Arts decided to postpone the
showing of "Art Until Now," by Jef
Bourgeau due to its questionable content.
Because the DIA censored the installation
on account of its provocative content, the
DIA's actions open the door to silencing
important artistic voices.
Granted, Bourgeau may not be an artist
on par with the Beatles or Angelou. His
installation, which includes a vial of urine
from Andres Serrano's photograph of a
submerged crucifix, a piece called
"Bathtub Jesus" with a doll wearing a
condom and a video dealing with men-
struation, would likely disgust many
viewers. But that does not mean the DIA
should censor it. More than Bourgeau's
show, a greater principle is at stake. By
successfully censoring one artist's work,
the door is open to further censorship.
And the next act of censorship may be
against an artist on par with great artists
who have been censored in the past. In
postponing Bourgeau's show, the DIA
does not mean to promote censorship, but
that is the result.
Furthermore, by refusing to show
Bourgeau's installation, the DIA ignores
that art is meant to be provocative. Art

provokes reaction and evokes feeling -
sometimes in disgust. As Bourgeau him-
self admits in Nov. 20 issue of The Detroit
News, "I'm playing with ideas about
provocative art drawn from our culture."
That these provocative ideas promote dis-
gust is not surprising. What is surprising
is the DIA feels the public cannot handle
such disgust.
Ultimately, it should be the public who
decides if Bourgeau's work deserves dis-
play. By postponing Bourgeau's show, the
DIA only increases the controversy sur-
rounding the installation. If Bourgeau's
exhibit is truly more disgusting than
thought provoking, the public will quick-
ly let the art gallery know with low atten-
dance. Rather than letting one man or a
board of directors decide which artwork
to display, the public should serve as
judge.
Ultimately, censorship curbs quality
artwork. Because art is meant to provoke,
censorship discourages artists attempting
to evoke strong feelings in their audience.
There will always be a ready supply of
"shock" art, but each individual deter-
mines which pieces have value and which
lack substance. By encouraging censor-
ship, the DIA cannot eliminate tasteless
art, but it can discourage quality art.
The DIA's decision is understandable,
if ultimately incorrect. Bourgeau's exhib-
it may be as tasteless as the DIA insists.
Even so, censoring the exhibit is the
wrong solution to the problem. By cen-
soring artwork, the DIA promotes censor-
ship in the future, which could result in
truly great works being overlooked.

not promote
democratic trade
TO THE DAILY:
All this week and into the next, dele-
gates from the 135 member nations of the
World Trade Organization are meeting in
Seattle. The event has drawn 2100
observers from 775 iternational NGOs and
as many as half a million protesters, repre-
senting issues from labor to indigenous
property rights to agriculture to biodiversi-
ty. Even as you read this the dissonance of
their individual voices and activities are
united in a common goal: democratic trade.
Since its creation in 1995, the WTO has
worked under a banner of free trade to facil-
itate ascorporate-managed prerogative it
whichlshsort-ris profits dominate other al-
ues. Free trade is championed by neoliberal
economists as a means of maximizing effi-
ciency in production and growth by reduc-
ing trade barriers between autonomous
states. But there is (as there always seems to
be in an economic system notorious for cost
externalization a certain irony in associat-
ing the word "free" with this type of trade.
Only a handful of bureaucrats are called
upon to manage the trade affairs of much of
the world in a body which exercises
unchecked judicial power on the laws of
nations. Members are not elected by the
people of representative nations and hold no
formal accountability for their actions.
Rulings on challenges to laws deemed
unfair to trade (such as health codes for
food or emission standards on fuel as well
as tariffs) are final. There are no conflict-of-
interest rules, and the deciding panelists
often have littleappreciation of domestic
law or of governmental responsibility to
protect workers, the environment or human
rights.
From a ruling that allowed theUnited
States to impose trade sanctions on the EU
for barring imports of hormose-treated
beef, to the support of intellectual property
rights laws on plants and animals that favor
U.S. and European pharmaceutical corpora-
tions' exploitation of indigenous knowledge
and cultural resources in "underdeveloped"
countries, to rulings against countries which
oppose importing fish netted without sim-
ple measures taken to protect sea turtles, we
see a common theme emerge: Trade, in
itself a multifunctional interaction that
expresses an autonomous nation or
culture's ethical, ecological and social as
well as economic values, is reduced by
WTO actions to narrow abstractions of
growth and efficiency.
In its practical application, neoliberal
free trade can be summarized as such: "We
will produce as much as we can to flood
your markets with our goods and work as
hard as we can to keep your goods out of
ours"' This is not a system of trade that
favors development, or equality, but the
continued sequestration of capital wealth
into the hands of a small few at the health,
labor and environmental expenses of bil-
lions.
This concentration of power is frighten-
ingly undemocratic. Every single environ-
mental or public health law challenged at
WTO thus far has been ruled illegal.
Perhaps most disturbing of all, corporations
have begun to use the mere threat of mas-
sive lawsuits against governments to get
them to repeal existing environmental,
health and labor laws. These suits frame
existing laws as trade barriers, and the
money requested is for profits which would
have been earned had the laws not been in
existence. Free, indeed!
Concerned students, activists and local
citizens are joining their voices today with
those in Seattle, and we encourage all
University students and faculty to do the
same! All day today on the Diag we will be
distributing information to raise awareness

on how the WTO operates and the issues at
stake in the current round of negotiations.
We encourage you come out to the
noontime rally, and also to stop by to write
letters and sign petitions to President
Clinton and congressional representatives
calling for more democratic trade reform.
This evening at 6 p.m. in 2024 Dana, Prof.
Ian Robinson will be giving a lecture on the
WTO's history, problems and alternatives.
We urge all of you to attend these events, to
follow media coverage of the negotiations
and the protests and to join us in working
toward equality, justice and democracy in
global trade!
JOSEPH GROENKE
SNRE AND LSA SENIOR
Facts discredit
stereotypes of
terrorists
TO THE DAILY:
In' Rabeh Soofi's letter to the editor
"Arab-American Anti-Discrimination
Committee 'whines"' (11/24/99), she
argues that since the group called "Arab
Muslims" "composes the largest terrorist
threat to American security ... the world (is
justified) to pass such quick judgement on
Arab Muslims as a whole" when there are
suspicions of terrorist activity. For some
reason it is still necessary at this point in
history to show that ignorance and stereo-
types are wrong.
If my memory serves me right, a white
man with ties to Michigan named
Timothy McVeigh killed more Americans
than any Arab terrorists. Workplace vio-
lence is a far greater threat to the average
American than any Arabs. Also, accord-
ing to the State Department's last report
on terrorism (1998), other regions in the
world had many more anti-American acts
of terror than the Middle East
(http:w//ww'u'it.state.gov/wwit,,'t/globau/terror-
ismil). Stereotypes conveniently neglect
facts.
Soofi's argument is justifying stereo-
types in general. We all know stereotypes
have a grain of truth in them; that does not
mean they are acceptable bases for policies,
media coverage or the worldviews of the
college-educated. Each of these require
slightly sophisticated understandings (you
would hope). Simplistic notions such as
"well since some do, assuming they all are
capable is fine" should not fly in an acade-
mic environment.
She makes the accusation that "the
Arab-American Anti-Discrimination
Committee are apologists of Arab Muslims
around the world." First, she groups a
highly diverse, multi-sectarian, multi-
national. multi-class group into one conve-
niently monolithic category ("Arab
Muslims") as if there is homogeneity. This
is the result of ignorance. Second, to be an

5HOUu-D ---
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t'1 Nl/C

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apologist of a broad and diverse group
such as Arab Muslims, means that the
group is accused or can be found guilty of
some crime. What is the crime ADC is
apologetic about? What is a crime, that a
a group, Arab Muslims have committed'
Perhaps it is the great crime against
humanity that conservatives have been
fighting against: being different.
Soofi suggests that the crime this
broad group is guilty of is that "Arab
Muslims ... further their causes
through death and terrorism." That is
news to me. ADC is an organization with
Arab Muslims (and Christians) and has
not killed or terrorized anyone, although
we have received terrorizing e-mails from
others. I could point her out to thousands
of Arab Muslim organizations in the Arab
World that work hard for human and civil
rights by building schools, running hospi-
tals, lobbying politicians and other civil
methods. However, their activities are not
deemed newsworthy. It is easier for the
media to report news that fits into the
associations people already hold (Arab =
terrorist) rather than challenge ignoran
assumptionswith contrary ideas.g a
What about the Christian fundamental-
ists who bomb abortion clinics and shoot
doctors? Does this mean we should be on
the look out for White Christians?
Soofi makes an absolutely puzzling
defense of stereotypes based on statistics
quantified meaninglessly with such vague
terms as "endless," "countless" and
"numerous." Yet, the total percentage of
Arab Muslims willing to actively engage in
acts of terrorism is less than one ten-thou
sandth of 1 percent. And according to the
State Department, anti-American terrorist
acts in the Middle East amounted to five out
of Ill world-wide. It should be noted that
Western Europe accounted for 13 and that
in the period from 1993 to 1998, this imbal-
ance is equally disproportionate.
Soofi speaks so highly of "facts" but
completely ignores them. They do not mesh
with her severely limited understanding of
group she so adamantly and unjustifiably
chastises.
I suggest that we must try to build
more complicated views of the world
through education and open-mindedness.
We should discard the simplistic associa-
tions that we use to process world events
because they tend to lead to severely lim-
ited conclusions such as in Rabeh Soofi's
letter. If we filter news about Arabs and
Muslims with the association of them as
terrorists, we will make the same mi4
takes we did after the Oklahoma City
Bombing, TWA flight 800 and on a regu-
lar basis when Arabs try to fly anywhere.
However, if we understand that the vast
majority of Arabs and Muslims are not
terrorists, the negative repercussions that
arise from ignorance - hate crimes, prej-
udice, discriminatory policy and violated
rights - will be avoided.
WILL YOUMAN
LSA SENIOR

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