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December 03, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-12-03

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 3, 1999
Ube £irbigun &tig

Everyone should lighten up and enjo

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

HEATHER KAMINS
Editor in Chief
JEFFREY KOSSEFF
DAVID WALLACE
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 Daily.

Down and out

'U' must address fall in minority applications

'T hey come out every year. Last
December it was the man who threat-
ened to sue a local radio station because
they were playing too many Christmas
songs.
A few years ago, it
was the girl who
rudely confronted a
drug store manager
about the cashier
who had wished her a
Merry Christmas
instead of a Happy
Holiday.
"It just slipped
out," said the cashierb
afterward, very
apologetic, as if he
had used profanity or Jennifer
insulted the girl's Strausz
mother. "Honest.
I'm really sorry."
Now it's the
woman at the book-
store who is openly complaining about the
Christmas decorations on the streets of
Ann Arbor and in store windows.
Like some of us, these people don't cel-
ebrate Christmas. But unlike most of us,
they are all worked up about it. They feel
like they're being bombarded with
Christmas spirit. They are tired of having it
shoved into their faces. And they are frus-
trated because they do not have the option
to look away.
Christmas is exactly where it always has
been at this time of year.
Everywhere. There are decorations lin-
ing every street, Christmas specials domi-
nating television air time. There are malls
filled with Santa Clauses and Christmas
lights and people buying those dancing
Santa dolls that shake back and forth to the

tune of "Jingle Bell Rock." There is a
national obsession with Christmas. or at
least the secular part of Christmas. The
Santa part. His elves. Rudolph. The trees.
The lights. The music.
The frustration of the seasonal com-
plainers is not hard to understand and it's
probably pretty easy to sympathize with.
But I dare to point out that there are other
ways to spend time, doing things like sit-
ting peacefully, which would be much
more effective than doing things like think-
ing negatively and expressing negative
thoughts. By adding their negativity to
America's Christmas, the complainers are
making the situation worse, adding more
awkwardness, creating something else to
complain about.
I really like Christmas. I think that
Christmas carols are wonderful, Christmas
lights are beautiful and mantles look per-
fect when Christmas stockings are hanging
down. I smile every time I read Francis P.
Church's "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa
Claus," and I could watch "Miracle on 34th
Street" four times in a row and enjoy it
every time.
It is easy for me to appreciate Christmas
as an observer without feeling like it is pos-
ing a religious threat.
The parallel that comes to mind is eating
at a restaurant where another family is cel-
ebrating a birthday. You are in the same
room as the family, but you don't have the
same occasion to celebrate. At the end of
the meal, when they sing to the birthday
girl, the room fills up with the singing. And
even though it is loud and it is not your cel-
ebration, you can still look over and smile.
The annual Christmas hype tends to last
longer than the average birthday song, but
the same principle applies. If you are pret-
ty sure of who you are and what you are

y December
doing, then there is no need to feel threat-
ened by someone else's celebration, even if
it is in your face. You can look over, smile
and continue your conversation, or even
stop for a brief moment to cheer for the
birthday girl as she blows out the candles
on her cake.
I admit that the seasonal complainers
(who would feel threatened by the birth-
day cake) actually have a few valid con-
cerns. There are some Christmas songs
that can get pretty annoying, especially
ones like "Rudolph the Red Nosed
Reindeer," when you include the extra
lyrics ("like a light bulb"). And some
Christmas decorations are just plain tacky.
But if we remember the pop songs that the
radio stations play on repeat during the
rest of the year, and if we keep in mind
that there are some things around that are
even more tacky than a grouping of life
size glow-in-the dark plastic Santa Claus
statues, we can keep these concerns iI
perspective and under control.
The complainers must have missed that
day in elementary school when Miss
Ferguson showed us that you shouldn't ever
point at someone because three fingers will
be pointing right back at you (four if you're
double-jointed in the thumb). As the com-
plainers point the blame at Christmas, tfe
other fingers are pointing at us. It is not up
to us to try to put a handle on Christmas.
The solution lies in us, in our own atti-
tudes, in our own religious identity.
Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah] a
relatively small Jewish festival that is rich
in tradition and beauty. I'll picture the fin-
gers pointing back at me tonight as I light
the menorah and sit peacefully as the flick-
ering candles burn down.
- Jennifer Straus: can be reached over
e-mail at jstraus:@umich.edu.
A LooK BACK

O nthe heels of a recent report indi-
eating minority enrollment is
decreasing in the University's prestigious
medical school, a report of total enroll-
ment in the University indicated a contin-
ued decline in the number of underrepre-
sented minority students.
In the past four years, the percentage
of underrepresented minorities - black,
Latino/a and Native American students
has dropped from 15 percent to a mere
11.3 percent. While Native Americans
have seen the sharpest drop in enrollment
percentage, the statistics should alarm
everybody, regardless of their race or eth-
nicity.
Numerous questions come to mind as
the report is viewed. The most signifi-
cant: What does this say about the
University's affirmative action policies?
Despite the best efforts of the University
to attract minority students, problems
still place obstacles in the path of the tal-
ented minority students the University
desires to draw.
The recent lawsuits challenging
admissions practices are widely consid-
ered the most significant setback to the
University. Minority students may per-
ceive the lawsuits as both threatening to
their opportunities to succeed as well as
to the prestigious reputation of the
University.
Stationed near the city of Detroit and
its sizable population of black and
Latino/a students, one would think that
the University would take full advantage
of the talent pool of minority students.
Unfortunately, this does not appear to be
the case.
Some schools are recruited more heav-
ily than others. The Detroit public school

system has 28 separate high schools -
the University should be recruiting vigor-
ously at all of them rather than just
Detroit's "elite" high schools. This fault
must be more thoroughly addressed to
alleviate concerns about admissions pro-
cedures.
Other obstacles to minority enrollment
include rigorous admissions procedures
and a lack of sufficient financial aid. The
University should take a hard look at its
admissions policies to identify as yet
unknown factors that may discourage
minorities from applying.
One such barrier is the overemphasis
on standardized tests. Wealthier students
who can afford test preparation courses
obviously have a great advantage taking
these tests. Students who attend poorer
schools with few computers or recent
technology, no AP tests and none of the
other luxuries of upper-class schools
continue to suffer in the process. These
considerations should be thought over
carefully.
The steady drop in minority applica-
tions also could be due to how minority
students feel they are being treated at the
University. Word of any neglect is bound
to spread to prospective minority stu-
dents.
In the wake of protests against
increased security at minority-dominated
functions at the Michigan Union and
another protest by black students at the
Fleming Administration Building, the
University should be especially sensitive
to minority concerns on campus.
With so many people encouraging
raises in the number of minority students
on campus, the results over the past four
years have been discouraging.

MATT WIMSATT

Advancing fairness?

AP courses should not
4ny college's admissions process
should attempt to evaluate appli-
cants by the fairest standards possible.
This means that each applicant should be
judged on not only what they did in high
school, but also whether they took advan-
tage of the opportunities offered to them.
If they take advantage of opportunities at
the high school level, they will presum-
ably do so again in college.
The University of California at
".Berkeley and other California institutions
f give large bonus credit in their admis-
sions process to students who take
Advanced Placement courses in high
kschool even though many underprivileged
_applicants do not have access to these
courses. Giving extra weight to AP cours-
es could have disastrous effects on an
already declining population of under-
privileged and minority students.
While colleges do not have any control
over the amount of AP courses a given
applicant is offered, they should be more
sensitive to students who don't have these
advantages. This means that even those
students who achieve outstanding high
school GPAs and extra curricular records
will automatically be at a disadvantage in
the admissions process for not taking AP
courses that were unavailable to them.
Currently, a proposal has been sug-
gested that rewards applicants a smaller
amount for taking AP courses. In the cur-
rent issue of the Chronicle of Higher
Education, University of California at
Davis psychology Prof. Keith Widaman

give applicants an edge
AP courses have an advantage over their
less fortunate peers in that their GPAs are
weighted by admissions officers.
Awarding less bonus points, in conjunc-
tion with suggestions for students to take
AP level classes at community colleges
and funding for more AP courses are all
efforts in place that would help level the
playing field - but they do not fix the
immediate problem of bias against less
privileged students.
In the wake of a 1996 amendment to
the state constitution prohibiting colleges
from considering race in admissions, it is
more critical for changes to be made in
the near future that ensure underprivi-
leged students the opportunities to attend
Berkeley and other top California
schools. It is particularly important that
admissions officers consider the course
load students take as compared to what is
offered. This means that even if a student
can't take AP courses, they will still be
rewarded if they challenge themselves in
the classroom.
While certain students aren't able to
take a wide variety of AP courses, they
are finding other ways to challenge them-
selves. These students are truly showing
initiative and a desire to enhance their
educational experience. After all, the
most important aspect of evaluating can-
didates should be how well they are able
to take a lot from the school and give a lot
back. Giving extra credit for things that
certain students can't control, such as AP
courses, makes the entire admissions

Hazing is a
character building
experience
TO THE DAILY:
I am writing in response to Matt Muller's
letter ("Sanz' view of hazing 'disturbing"'
12/1/99). It disappoints me to see Muller turn
on everything that made him what he is. I
would have appreciated some type of rebuttal
defending his views on hazing; rather he
choose to insult and dismiss a fellow service-
man in the Armed Forces. As a side note, that
was a major faux pas. I would never question
his service to his country, nor the manner in
which he performed it. He should pay the
same courtesy to others.
I did not like the hazing I received in my
time. Everyday I thought of ways to get back
at the people who made my life hell. It was
degrading, demoralizing and often against the
"rules." However, when it was all over with,
the feeling of accomplishment and pride was
more than I could describe. It was a mix of "I
made it, I beat you and nothing can get me
down again." You can believe than when the
time came for me to inflict the same hardships
on others, I was right there in the forefront.
I suspect, Muller subscribes to the new
theory of military training, where we all sit
down and talk about character, duty, etc. We
discuss it, vote on it, and modify anything we
don't like. Men and women training together
(except in the Marine Corps) in a happy envi-
ronment. Your squad leader doesn't yell at
you; instead he discusses with you what you
did wrong and how you can change it. This all
sounds great, but it doesn't work. We just
don't realize it because we haven't had a real
conflict since the Vietnam War. Besides the
people on peacekeeping missions across the
world, most servicemen these days drill, chip
paint and clean weapons - hardly tasks that
require strong moral character.
I'm happy to know that there are still
places in the military - Service Academies,
various boot camps, special forces training -
where hazing still goes on. Used in conjunc-
tion with rigorous training, hazing produces
results far more valuable than any other type
of character building exercises. Think of haz-
ing as building train tracks - it's hard, excru-
ciatingly slow and you can't see the whole job
while you're doing it. But when it's all done,
you have a great train line that will last
decades if it was done right the first time. By
keeping the tradition of hazing alive, we are
ensuring that future generations of officers
and enlisted men alike will share a common
bond that ensures trust, fidelity and above all,
a sense that they can accomplish anything
even when their body says stop.
CHRIS GEORGANDELLIS
LSA SENIOR
Students should
take an interest in
basketball team
TO THE DAILY:

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students at our school would wear them to
support him. He no longer does this, but one
of our extremely talented first-year student
does. Jamal Crawford wears a headband dur-
ing the games this year, and to support the
team, the student body should all done similar
headbands. Not only will this pump up the
team and unify the students, but it will send a
message to Duke when they come to town.
REID WAINESS
LSA SOPHOMORE
Union's policies are
not racially
discriminatory
TO THE DAILY:
As a fellow student at this University,
and as an employee of the Union, let me
please say with all my heart that we do
not have "a discriminatory union" here on
our campus as the Daily's so-titled editor-
ial insinuated on 11/22/99.
Allow me to refute a couple of points:
1. Events targeted to black or latino/a
events have been monitored with a much
stronger police presence than those domi-
nated by white students.
False. Dance parties that fall under the
policy's criteria and target any student
organization require DPS presence. These
officers are assigned more than a month
before the actual event, based on the
host's expected turnout. If you expect 400
people to come to your dance, then we
assign you four officers (one per 100). If
only 100 show up that night, 4 officers
still show up.
2. Black or Latino/a students are often
subjected to wristbands and ID verifica-
tion.
True. So is anyone else attending a
party. The capacity of a dance is either set
by the student organization, or fire code.
Some groups open their parties to anyone.
Others open them only to University stu-
dents. The latter case means the Union
ticket office must ID students before sell-
ing them tickets.
3. Sometimes black and Latino/a stu-
dents have to leave via the side door.
Fal.UIz1nless the- tuident npartiesz have

majority of dances that fall under the pol-
icy's criteria are booked by minority
events. Last year we booked 30 dances
under the policy: 14 "black," six
"Latino/a," three "Indian," three "Asian"
and four other interracial events.
Also, events such as open houses
(Michigras), dinner receptions and week-
end-long conferences do not fall under
the Dance Policy. They do not require
DPS presence.
Let me conclude by saying I agree the
dance policy needs changing. Many peo-
ple who work in the Union do. But this
need for change is certainly not motivated
by an old policy that is racist. I simply *
would not work for an organization that
had discriminatory practices, nor would 1.
enforce a policy that I felt was discrimi-
natory.
MATT HEALY
ENGINEERING SENIOR
STUDENT BUILDING MANAGER
THE MICHIGAN UNION
Reader has seen
Nike labor
violations first-hand
TO THE DAILY:
Nike's most recent advertisement advised
people to respond to critics of their labor con-
ditions by saying, "I'll believe it when I see it"
Well, I've seen it. I saw it this past summer,
while examining apparel factories in Mexico,
I investigated a Nike subcontract facility. I
found there the employment of child laborers,
intimidation of workers by management, and
poverty level wages. A child worker explained
to me that the factory owner hid her and sev-
eral other underage workers in the factory
warehouse on the day of an announced facto-
ry inspection.
Nike boasts "the most comprehensive
independent labor monitoring programs of
any company in the world," yet I, a college
student working on a shoestring budget, was
able to find several violations that Nike'.
high-priced monitors missed. Clearly some-
thing is fundamentally wrong with Nike's
monitoring system. Workers who spoke can-
didiv to rme aot uworkcnhwp e viltio af~id

I

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