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December 06, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-12-06

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 6, 1999

(}e LirbtigGn kilg

Why the minorities don't represent at the University

I

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

S 2
S S .

HEATHER KA IINS
Editor in Chief
JEFFREY KOSSEFF
DAVID WALLACE
Editorial Page Editors

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the
Dailys editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect
the opinion offThe Michigan Daily.

Regent rights
Regents should be elected by the public

A s many of you already know. I am
black. This means that I am among
the 4,282 underrepresented minority stu-
dents that inhabit the University campus.
For a long while, our numbers were rising.
In fact, between
1986 and 1996 -
the wonder years of
James Duderstadt's
Michigan Mandate
- overall minority
enrollment at the
University more than
doubled. But in
recent years, people
like me - and this
includes my Native
American and
Latino a counter- Scott
parts - have Hunter
become more and
more scarce on this
campus. And this has
me concerned.
Last week, the University released fig-
ures culled from official student counts
taken after the third week of fall semester
classes. The results were grim, but certain-
ly not surprising: Underrepresented
minorities now comprise only 11.3 percent
of the student body, down from 13 percent
last year and 15 percent in 1995. In a
nation where underrepresented minorities
compose almost a quarter of the populace,
this report is truly cause for alarm. Not
only is there a statistical dearth of under-
represented people on this campus, but the
problem is steadily intensifying.
'Looking to the root of the problem.
there is no denying that the ebb in enroll-
ment owes at least in part to a paucity of
minority applicants in recent years. The
current first-year class was selected from

21,011 applications, x' h only 2.260
underrepresented minorit submissions-
less than 1p1 percent of the total pool.
Certainly, this hifhli ghts the need for bet-
ter recruitment elbrts and more appealing
financial aid straegies- the same stock
solutions that administrators proffer when-
ever this problem is discussed.
the only problem with focusig exclu-
sivel on these modes of action is that they
presuppose that falling application num-
bers mirror only a lack of informational
and financial access in underrepresented
communities. While these factors surely
contribute to the problem and warrant con-
tinued attention, it appears that the current
debate fails to adequately consider another
possible source of the problem: The
University has declining appeal among
underrepresented minority groups.
This conjecture is hardly unreasonable.
Just look at the recent trials of the Medical
School. In 1996. during a period of declin-
ing minority applications - a period that
continues today -- the results ofa cultural
diversity assessment revealed that minori-
ty students and faculty did not feel wel-
come at the Medical School. In fact, 95
percent of black students said they would
not stay at the Medical School if they were
offered a position elsewhere. Latinoias and
Native Americans, too, expressed a gener-
al dissatisfaction with the environment. It
would be naive to assume that the phe-
nomena of unhappy students and falling
applications were not somehow linked.
I'm sure word gets out about this kind of
thing.
From personal observation, the prob-
lem of dissatisfied minority students is
not unique to the medical school: It per-
meates many different schools, disci-
plines and facets of campus life. Witness

protests over the partiality of Union secu-
rity decisions: listen to students express
uneasiness as they watch minority
resources erode: and watch as black pro-
testers unite in a demonstration outside
the Fleming Building. Discontent is not
hard to see.
Of course, this is not to say that all
underrepresented minority students are
dissatisfied or that we all wish we had not
come to school here. There is no real bloc
opinion because we are as diverse as our
hues and shapes. For that reason, I am not
qualified to speak for the collective.
So, in reading this article, do not think
that I have capsulized the thoughts of
underrepresented people on this campus; I
am merely expressing the ideas I have
gleaned from my experiences and from my
interactions with people at this school.
Understanding the true sentiment of any
"group of students at this university
demands much more than skimming*
through a 700-word column.
It demands dialogue.
It demands action.
It demands, more than a superficial guise
of concern.
Though it often goes unsaid, this University
has excellent academic resources and a great
reputation. I'm sure most of the people who
graduate from this institution are well armed
to attack the job market.
But in addition to enhancing these acad-
emic benefits, the University must ensure
the happiness of all its students. Few stu-
dents will see a need to sacrifice their hap-
piness for a Michigan diploma. They can
just look elsewhere for a good education.
Apparently, that's exactly what the
underrepresented students are doing.
Scott Hunter can be reached over
e-mail at .sehunter(dumich.edu.
K NE E P KN

O ne of the features that makes the
University unique among the state's
15 institutions of higher education is that
its Board of Regents is elected by the peo-
ple of Michigan - a distinction it shares
only with Michigan State University and
Wayne State University. But the University
community (and the rest of the state) may
lose the chance to have a say in the election
of the regents. The state Senate is currently
considering an amendment to Michigan's
constitution that would make the governor
responsible for appointing the regents, as is
the case for the rest of the state's.universi-
ties. A change like this would be a disas-
trous mistake.
The current selection process allows the
entire state to have a say in who will be in
charge of the University. As the people who
are most directly affected by the selection
of the regents, the University community
must be able to have a direct influence in
determining who sits on the board. And
when the regents depend on public opinion
to retain their offices, it makes them more
accountable to their constituents.
Sen. John Schwarz (R-Battle Creek),
who introduced the resolution, claims that
electing the board is partisan, and having the
governor appoint the regents would end this
problem. Gov. John Engler only would be
allowed to appoint Republicans for five of
the eight spots. But partisanism would be
more of a problem under the proposed sys-
tem. After all, it is almost certain that any
governor would appoint people to the board
whose political views coincide with his own.
And those views may run counter to what is
best for students - which is certainly the

case with Engler. During his administration,
Engler has consistently made decisions that
would harm the University. He repeatedly
cut state funding for higher education, pre-
ferring to increase spending on the correc-
tional system. He has proposed a tiered
funding system that would ignore the needs
of the University as a major research institu-
tion. And his proposed state funding
increases to the University have been minus-
cule at best. His record shows that he is no
friend to education.
Bringing the state government into the
administration of the University would be
detrimental. In addition to the possibility of
partisan decision-making, the governor
could also use the appointment of regents
to further his political agenda by selecting
people who support that agenda. And he
would also have an indirect influence over
the University's curriculum. This should
not be allowed to happen. Public universi-
ties should be the domain of the public.
The other argument against elections for
the regents centers on the ignorance of the
general public when it comes to the candi-
dates for the board. Though this may be a
valid concern, there are other ways of han-
dling the problem - changing the date of
the elections or opening it only to those.
who are directly .affected, namely the peo-
ple of Ann Arbor.
But no matter how this is dealt with, it is
important that the University's students and
faculty have a say in the choice of the
regents. The University is a center of
research and higher learning, and its
administration should not be determined by
politicians.

THOMAs KULJURGIS

eLe was exceWhat's bessngpo
Police force in Seattle was excessive

L ast week's meeting of the World Trade,
Organization in Seattle was expected
to be a boring and unnoticed gathering of
trade officials from around the world. The
meeting, while unquestionably important,
was anticipated to only draw the attention
of policy wonks and business executives.
That was before it became the focal point
of some of the largest protests the United
States has seen in decades and was dubbed
the "Battle of Seattle" by many because of
violent clashes between protesters and
police.
The World Trade Organization, a forum
its member countries make deals and settle
disputes within, has drawn criticism for
operating too secretively, not being con-
cerned enough with environmental issues
and disinterested in human and worker's
rights. People from across the country and
the world came to Seattle attempting to
interject some of these issues into the trade
talks and bring visibility to what they
viewed as the selling out of some of this
country's most important principles.
Unfortunately, while the WTO talks cer-
tainly became more visible, the important
issues being addressed by the delegates and
protesters were overshadowed by the van-
dalism of a small group of people and the
broad and unnecessarily heavy handed
response of the police and national guard.
A small band of self-proclaimed anarchists
were responsible for most of the damage
done to the fashionable stores of downtown
Seattle, but authorities responded by pro-
ceeding to disperse peaceful protesters
with tear gas and rubber bullets.
The attempt to halt the vandalism of a

using such heavy force against the over-
whelmingly non-violent crowds. Many of
the protesters attempted to protect the busi-
nesses being targeted by those few who had
specifically come to try to incite riots.
While police certainly had every right to
attempt to end violence and vandalism,
they made a major mistake in trying to
clear out all the protesters. By treating any-
one standing in the street as just another
troublemaker to be pepper-sprayed, they
only succeeded in turning the entire situa-
tion into an embarrassing fiasco for every-
one involved.
Instead of sparking discussions about
the role of the WTO and the exceedingly
important issues its backers and opponents
were promoting, most of what the public
will remember about the Seattle meeting is
the clouds of tear gas, running protesters
and police in stormtrooper-like riot gear
advancing on them. Both sides lost an
opportunity to bring the vitally important
issues associated with trade and globaliza-
tion the attention they deserved.
Most of the blame belongs to Seattle
authorities who were unprepared for deal-
ing with the problems inherent in large
protests then and overreacted to the entire
situation. In an obviously unwise move,
police pushed protesters out of a downtown
curfew area and into densely populated res-
idential neighborhoods, where their most
intense clashes took place. Seattle's police
made no plans for dealing with any of the
complications that could arise from tens of
thousands of people marching through the
streets of the city. They used excessive
action against peaceful protesters who were

Enrollment numbers
may be statistically
misleading
TO THE DAILY:
Let's talk numbers. In the Dec. I
issue. Michael Grass reports that minori-
ty enrollment has decreased by less than
4 percent for each group (except Native
Americans. whose percentage change is
misleading due to low statistics) while
total University enrollment increased by
1.7 percent. But, 2.240 or so students did
not reveal their ethnicity. So, we really
don't know if there are 102 fewer black
students, 34 fewer Latinoas, and 14 less
Native Americans, for a total decrease of
150 students in these groups. In fact,
each of these groups could have actually
increased by 500 students and we would
not know it.
Any statistics major could tell Grass
that figures from two years of enrollment
do not demonstrate a downward trend. A
responsible article would provide long-
term data. First, show us the trend of
University enrollment for the last ten
y'ears. This would demonstrate the
University's ability to attract minority
students. Second, also show us the trend
in the number of people who do not
reveal their ethnicity over that ten years.
1,would not be surprised to see more peo-
ple refusing to divulge that information,
especially in light of the affirmative
action lawsuits.
Only after demonstrating these two
trends can Grass make any intelligent
statement about decreasing minority
enrollment.
I can say that I am one of those 2,240
students whose ethnicity is "unknown."
So, if Grass or the University or anyone
else wants to know what category I fall
under, they'll have to know me first.
CAROLYN LEHNER
RACKHAM STUDENT
Student behavior at
Yost showed poor
taste
TO THE DAILY:
I write with concern for my fellow
students and the reputation of our
University following the most heartless
display of human behavior I have wit-
nessed on campus. During this Saturday's
hockey game, the student section was
again graced by the presence of the
Superfan ... who has graduated ... twice
... yet still inflicts himself upon the Yost
crowd. During the course of the close and
contentious game, the normal taunts and
jeers arose from the usually raucous
home crowd. What shocked and appalled
me was the behavior of my fellow stu-
dents (goaded by the illustrious
Superfan) as they proceeded to mock the

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191 f-

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When this was finished, many stu-
dents began to make sport of another
injured Bowling Green player who had
been sent face first into the boards.
While this player was helped off the ice,
one of the University's finest started
making bird-call noises (maybe he's an
MSU transfer), as if the injured player
were a lame duck. When the Bowling
Green parents turned to respond to the
student contingency, many students
returned such verbal barbs as 'Ugly
Parents" and "Your Kid Sucks."
To be honest, I'm all for good-natured
jibing at hockey games, but there is a
point where all decency is thrown to the
wind ... and many of my fellow students
charged past that point with abandon on
Saturday night.
In the case of the injured Bowling
Green players, I don't care if the taunts
were in jest. Plain and simple, these play-
ers were in great pain. Rejoicing at
another's suffering is certainly not a com-
munity standard. It is downright atro-
cious.
Unfortunately, those Bowling Green
parents and visitors from the community
left Yost that night with the impression
that University students truly are arro-
gant, heartless, "All Money, No Class"
savages. Towards the end of the game, as
the indefatigable Superfan led students in
the cheer, "It's great to be a Michigan
Wolverine," at that moment, even as a
lifelong Wolverine fan, I could not bring
myself to join in.
The next time Superfan and his com-
panions find themselves doubled over in
pain or are incapacitated, I'm wondering
if divine justice will provide a scoffer to
laugh at their condition, inform them that
their parents are ugly and that they, too,
suck. As a salty five-year Yost veteran, I
love our hockey team; I just hope my fel-
low students would have the decency to
relent from jeering when we see our
"guests" limping in pain off the ice.
BRAD SPRECHER
LSA SENIOR
Local band plays
more than funk

The headline for last Thursday's article
about That's My Mama ("Local boys' funk
gains attention") has the potential to mis-
lead people as to the nature of the band's
music. As mentioned in Jeff Shultz's well*
written article, the band blends an eclectic
array of musical styles.
Although funk is often evident in our
sound, so are the sounds of classic rock,
blues, jazz, reggae and other styles. More
importantly, characterizing That's My
Mama as a funk band would be unfair to
excellent Ann Arbor funk groups such as
Bambu and Astro Pimps.
Nonetheless, the Daily's interest and
noteworthy coverage of the local musi
scene is much appreciated and indee
worthwhile.
ADAM KOTOK
BUSINESS JUNIOR

M1~T EICAL iftEL s .. -
5 1T C O

N

6

Editorial
misidentified
corporate owners

0.

TO THE DAILY:
There are some factual errors in the
11/23/99 editorial "U Should Divest
Tobacco Companies." RJ Reynolds
Tobacco is still in the business of making
cigarettes and is primarily liable for pay-
ments resulting from the tobacco settle-
ment. RJR Nabisco, the holding company
for RJ Reynolds Tobacco, RJ Reynold
International Tobacco and Nabisco, Inc.,
has been split up and renamed to Nabisco
Group Holdings.
In the break up RJ Reynolds Tobacco
became a separately held company and RJ
Reynolds International Tobacco was sold to
Japan Tobacco. Nabisco Group Holdings is
still responsible.for tobacco litigation should
RJ Reynolds be unable to make its pay-
ments. This is the only on-going relationshi4
between Nabisco Group Holdings and its
former tobacco subsidiaries.
Finally, Kraft is owned by Phillip
Morris, not RJ Reynolds. I believe this is
correct, however all these facts can be
easily verified at the Business School
Library.

I

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