4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, December 2, 1999
Gihe £irkign Etcag
I'll take my criticism with a heaping dose of Prozac
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the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
Running on time
Computerized bus signs would benefit students
can't concentrate on this column right now.
Between colossal term papers, oral presen-
tations and final exams, I barely have time to
listen to the people who think the Daily is
plotting a massive conspiracy against them.
Actually, I won't have
any time to conspire
for the rest of the
semester. Darn! If my
professors were chari-
table enough to with-
hold my grades this
semester, I would be'
Imagine - no
grades. There would be
no more struggling to
beat the curve. I'd set-
tle for some Jeffrey
Residential College Kosseff
While there is a certain
satisfaction to seeing N'w y-
my success quantified,
I experience greater disappointment from the
quantification of failure. And this semester,
my work shockingly is bound to be imperfect.
Sure, I could handle written evaluations.
The economics 401 curve shrunk my academ-
ic ego two years ago. Now I could handle most
criticism of my scholarship. To prove it, I'll go
through the last written course evaluations I
received: my elementary school report cards.
I dug them out of my closet over
Thanksgiving break. I haven't read them in
ages, but I'm sure they all hit the nail on the
head - that I was the ideal student.
Let's start with first grade. Mrs. Thomas
was my favorite teacher. She was an old
woman who loved everyone - there wasn't a
mean bone in her body. Let's see what good
ol' Mrs. Thomas had to say about yours truly.
Jeff rev tries very hard to do his best, and
he is progn'essing well....,
Good. good. So far I have an "A" for effort.
I love that woman.
"although he is somewhat unsure about
That senile old hag called me a recluse. I
might not have been as outgoing as some of
the dumb kids, but I wasn't "unsure" about
anything. She was trying to create a self-ful-
filling prophecy that would make me move to
Wyoming and plan a takeover of the federal
I had many disagreements with my second-
grade teacher, Mrs. Sloan. But we respected
each other, despite our differences. I'll bet she
had some glowing remarks.
"He has to stop rushing and making care-
less errors. We also need to encourage him to
be more organized."
That was from the first quarter. I'm sure
she grew to love me by the end of the school
year. What did she have to write about me by
the fourth quarter?
"Jeff will do very well when he makes up
his mind to really concentrate and do his best.
I don 't believe he is ready to make that com-
I should have made up my mind to tell that
ice queen what I thought of her. She brought
favoritism to a new level. She didn't like me
because I didn't kiss her sorry ass. I bet her
family collapsed "American Beauty" style. I
hope she lost her teaching job and is now
doing something that would have been
beneath her - like cleaning houses. Maybe
I'll hire her to clean my house in 10 years.
And I'll have her make sure not to be careless.
I didn't like third grade, so Miss Rogers
probably hated me. She wasn't particularly
bright, so I doubt she understood my genius.
"Jeffiev enjoys participating in class dis-
cussions. He is very coOptratice in class. I
hav 'e enjoyed working with Jetfflev this yea:"
Finally, here's a voice of reason. Miss
Rogers had the keenest ability to judge talent
and intelligence. If there were a Golden Apple
for teachers, I'd nominate her.
My fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Robinson,
was too slow to be critical.
"Jeffey contintes to need to recheck writ-
ten assignments/br spelling errors, thorough-
ness and neatness."
He probably had one too many shots of
vodka before writing that comment. Waht is
he taalkingg abbout? I"m metticulus when I
proferead my work. Dumb drunkard!
I earned all "A's" in fifth grade, so there's
no reason why Mr. Braderman would give me
a poor evaluation.
"Jet rcev needs to work on producing neater
What the hell is wrong with him? Sure, my
penmanship might leave a bit to be desired.
OK, it's barely legible, even today. But I was
doing straight-A work, operating at a seventh-
grade level in fifth grade. How dare he try to
slow me down. He probably was jealous.
Yeah, I bet they all envied me.
As much as I don't want to admit it, many
of these evaluations could apply to my school
work this semester. My writing is horrendous,
and I occasionally rush through assignments.
On second thought, maybe written evalua-
tions aren't so great. My ego is better
equipped for letter grades. Although there are
no marks, evaluations are painfully true. And
too much truth hurts.
One letter takes a lot less time to digest than
hundreds of them.
- Names of teachers have been changed
to protect the incompetent.
Jefrev Kosseff can be reached over
U niversity students have become
accustomed to the advantages of the
Internet, but did they ever think it might
help them catch a bus? That's exactly
what should happen if the University car-
ries out its plan to install dot matrix indi-
cator signs at bus stops across campus.
The signs would connect to radio modems
alerting both people waiting at the bus
stop and those online when the buses
would arrive at each bus stop. The entire
University community would benefit
The system would provide increased
safety. Students would no longer be forced
to wait long periods of time at bus stops.
With the new system, students could either
check arrival times online or return inside
after checking the signs at the bus stop.
Because students would not have to wait
outside, they would avoid both the dangers
of traveling alone late at night and the
threat of the cold.
If the increase in student safety isn't
reason enough to implement the new sys-
tem, the added convenience it will pro-
vide should further convince the
University of its worth. Because students
won't be waiting at the bus stop, they
should be able to use their time more
effectively. Also, under this plan, students
will know if a bus has broken down or
been delayed. This will help decrease the
number of students arriving late for class
when traveling by bus. The paper signs
posted at bus stops are practically useless,
because the buses rarely run exactly on
As with any project, there are draw-
backs to the implementation of a bus
tracking system. One possible concern is
the system's cost, which would be between
$100,000 and $200,000. Still, the cost,
which should be aided by University
funds, is small relative to the vast benefits
it would provide. Other concerns are pos-
sible vandalism of dot matrix signs and the
difficulties that may be encountered in ser-
vicing the tracking system.
Still, these possible drawbacks should
not discourage the University from imple-
menting this project. Vandalism is a threat
with any new development, and it should
not stop the University from trying pro-
jects that benefit students.-Difficulties in
service can also be expected, but the
University must be prepared to account
for these problems as new technology
The University also must consider that
the new bus-tracking system would help
keep the University on the cutting edge of
technology. The University prides itself on
the implementation of technology in
coursework. There is no reason the campus
shouldn't adhere to the same technical
standards that classes demand. With other
universities like Ohio State already imple-
menting bus-tracking systems, the
University of Michigan cannot afford to
Considering the advantages the new bus-
tracking system would provide to students
and faculty, along with the high standard of
technology it keeps at the University, this is
a cost-effective policy. We think increased
student safety and convenience is worth the
relatively small costs.
GjRINDING THEP NIB3
The Michigan Daily welcomes letters from
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TT S LIKEi
URNAT ARE YOUt
1 P ''- ''
( t ' 4
12 H f.,
F Cocus on public schools
Chartering is not the answer
W hen a bill was introduced in the state
House last May to raise the number
of schools that can be chartered by state
universities to 225 from the current 150,
the bill thankfully stalled. It was passed by
the House Education Committee but was
never brought to a vote in full House
because it lacked the votes to pass.
Unfortunately, Gov. John Engler and the
Republican leadership of the state legisla-
ture are now pushing another bill aimed at
expanding the number of schools universi-
ties can charter.
State House leaders have attempted to
gain more support by only increasing the
number of schools a university can charter
by 50 now and then allowing another 25
next year. The bill also will create a five-
person oversight board in an attempt to win
support from legislators who have raised
concerns over charter schools' lack of out-
This bill is a serious attack on the
state's public schools and deserves the
same fate as its predecessor. Charter
schools are taxpayer-financed with none
of the elected oversight and accountabili-
ty required of public schools. Many of
them also espouse highly questionable
educational philosophies, such as
instructing students in "morality" and
using "traditional" curricula, those things
being whatever the company running the
charter school thinks they are.
Many public schools in Michigan,
which educate the vast majority of the
state's students, are beset by significant
problems, and funneling their funding
intn charter enansi s a serious mistake-
so bad that they have stripped the elected
school board of its authority and handed
it over to an unelected reform board. But
they're also taking funds away from the
system and sending them to unregulated,
often for-profit, quasi-private charter
schools. This raises questions about their
motives and throws serious doubt on the
state's commitment to improving public
education in Detroit or anywhere else in
Besides siphoning money from already
inadequately funded public schools, char-
ter schools also operate with no elected
oversight and little scrutiny from the state.
Engler's proposed oversight board also
would be unelected and will likely be just
another state board stocked with his
cronies. Given his own fervor for charter
schools and lack of interest in any over-
sight for them, there is little reason to
believe Engler would place anyone on the
board seriously interested in whether the
schools are adequately educating students.
Rather, it stands to reason that the board,
like the governor, would mostly be con-
cerned with defending and expanding
Charter schools, which have been her-
alded by some as the first step in privatizing
public education, harm Michigan's public
schools and are detrimental to the education
of most of its children. Charter schools are
little more than private schools totally fund-
ed with public money, free of the legal and
constitutional guidelines adhered to by pub-
lic schools and often operating on untested
and highly dubious educational philoso-
nhiie This stte a1readv has too manv char-
When I read the Daily's editorial "Is
Freedom worth $5.69?" (11/11/99) I was
shocked by how the paper argued its case
in support of student fees' legality and
validity. The Daily obviously doesn't have
its facts right when it assertively declares
that "student activity fees are fair because
MSA's funding process is democratic,"
referring to MSA's Budget and Priorities
Committee's allocation of student fees to
student groups here at the University.
This is absolutely erroneous! What is so
democratic about a bunch of selected stu-
dents who choose what groups they decide
deserve funding? Oh, yes, but wait, MSA
defenders would cite the fact that the com-
mittee claims to decide allocation of fund-
ing based on the group's application and that
vague term they define as "activeness and
impact on campus." This is MSA's official
line, but what it preaches and practices are
two different things altogether. Since the
Daily mentioned Students for Life in the
editorial (because we received funding from
MSA) in order to back up your claim of how
equitable and just the system is, let me point
out the many facts that the Daily ignored in
First, you made no mention of the fact
that at first Students for Life was only
granted a measly $10 from MSA, while
our opposition, Students for Choice and
Medical Students for Choice, received
$300 and $200 respectively. I admit SFL
might not have "described" all our activi-
ties in the detail MSA wanted, but this was
because it was our very first time in the
history of our group that we applied for
funding. Needless to say we deserved
more than a mere $10, the lowest of any
MSA funded group. It was only after I
made a strong complaint and promised to
have SFL picket MSA meetings if this
injustice wasn't corrected, that all of a sud-
den, four days later at an appeals hearing,
the committee members found it in their
hearts to give us $150!
Although we have accepted this
amount for this semester, one has to ask
does SFC and Medical SFC really deserve
the amount they received in comparison
with SFL? The answer is no, when one
looks at the facts.
According to SFC's Oct. 25 meeting
notes "only the board members were there
so the meeting was kind of short." In con-
trast SFL's Oct. 26 meeting had well over
25 people in attendance and lasted a whole
hour due to planning of our many upcom-
Well, with that dearth of attendance at
SFC meetings, what about the group's
activities? On Oct. 21st SFC and Medical W
SFC presented a video and "discussion" or
abortion before it was legalized. When six
SFL members, including myself, shower
up for this event we found that only e
handful of SFC members were present. We
almost outnumbered them! Yet, SFL's
Tombstones for the Unborn" event on Oct
29th had almost 20 SFL members partici-
pating throughout the day and we handec
out hundreds of quarter sheets to students
in the Diag. Our display of tombstones foi
the 40 million babies aborted since Roe Y
Wade was seen by thousands of university
students that day, including BPC chai
Glen Roe who actually was amazed that
SFL was so visible out in the Diag. Yet.
Roe oversaw that SFC be given DOUBLE
what SFL was given, even after the appeal
that I made describing this event and oth.
ers like it! I'll let students decide for them-
selves if MSA's funding process is truly
democratic as evidenced by the outrageous
allocation disparity between the two anti-
life groups which have essentially done
nothing to impact the campus with theii
funds, and SFL, which has had to beg foi
what it truly deserves based on MSA's owr
criteria for allocating funds.
- This viewpoint was written by LSA
sophomore Andrew Shirvell.
Current 'U' divestment process is inadequate
Contrary to the caption under my photo-
graph on the front page of Tuesday's Daily, I
did not "speak out against the University's
investment in tobacco stocks." I explicitly stat-
ed that I did not have a recommendation on
that specific issue, and I ask that the Daily
prominently display a retraction.
As the body of the story correctly reported,
I argued that the act of investing is not value
free and that the University is not well-served
by the present process that requires Regental
action in order to begin official deliberation of
such matters. How the University invests its
endowment is, like it or not, an object lesson
for the university community on how invest-
ing is influenced by values. Decisions about
investments are in fact not unrelated to anti=
sweatshop and human rights policies, adopted
by the University Board of Regents on the
decision to divest." In so stating, the
Administration takes a position about divest-
ment that it thinks is obviously in support of
our core missions. In view of the disgust for
tobacco companies that was expressed by all
those who spoke last night, it would seem that
some people may consider universal disdain
for business practices quite relevant to such a
divestment decision. My point is not that the
criterion is correct or incorrect, but that every
position about investment policy is value-
laden. The University has further character-
ized the issue of divestment as an expression
of "particular political opinions."
That may or may not characterize the
motives of some of those concerned, but it cer-
tainly misconstrues the moral and ethical
Does the University maintain that, in gen-
with a company, but we should not be afraid to
discuss such questions for fear of "politiciz-
ing" the University.
It is an affront.to the notion of faculty gov-
ernance that it has taken more than two years
since the Faculty Senate recommended divest-
ment of tobacco stocks for the University to
begin official deliberations about it.
(Perhaps the faculty should take a lesson
from their students and occupy the president's
office.) This is not to say that the current ad
hoc committee is. not qualified to arrive at a
I am not suggesting that every company be
scrutinized before a decision is made to invest
in it, but, when an investment is challenged by
members of our community, there should be in
place a preestablished set of criteria within
which such questions should be considered (as