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September 14, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-09-14

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,4 -The Mictigan Daily - Tuesday, September 14, 1999

hje Sitiigrnl D

Just when I think I'm out, the 'U'pulls me back in

1 0

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
DA ID 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.

Home sweet home

School." I said to the University. 'I
know what you're doing and it's not
going to work."
This conversation took place a week or so
ago. For the fourth year in a row, the
University had the
audacity to try cajol-
ing me out of summer
vacation.
I had spent numer-
ous blissful weeks
away from the
demands of the
University. 1 had{
traveled to places
like the Baseball
Hall of Fame. the
Rock and Roll Hall D
of Fame and David
Museum and Wallace
Niagara Falls. In
places like these,
time doesn't exist.
But then, as August
drew to a close. I could feel the University
calling to me.
"You want to come back."
I try to resist as long as I can.
Look, even if I did want to come back,
there wouldn't be much point to it. I've let
my brain rust like a wagon left out in the
rain. Now the axles are corroded and the
wheels won't turn."
But my petty protest leaves the
University undeterred. It says the wheels
never turned that well in the first place, but
if I come back it will see about oiling them
up.
"OK, but even if you could get me back
on track. why would I want to give up on

mx vacation. Take the sleep I'm getting. On
vacation. I can get tip at noon if I want."
The University laughs and shows me my
schedule - the one I selected last spring.
None of my classes start before l p.m. this
semester.
"Outsmarted myself. Crap."
The University also points out that it
periodically has seen my head bow in the
back rows of some of the lecture rooms, so
one way or another I get the sleep I need.
I must admit, my adversary is fairly
skilled at shooting down my arguments. It's
won the last three years. But I must contin-
ue to plug away. Someone has to hold on for
summer.
"Well, School. tell me why I should give
up the money I'm making now to come
back and live the life of a broke college stu-
dent."
The haughty air of a wealthy alumni
comes over the University. It asks me if my
summer job is what I call making money.
Its got me there.
The University begins pulling me toward
it. It just sits there, in Ann Arbor, content
and knowing that I will come. It wears the
amused, guileful smile of a crime boss. It
knows it's making me an offer I can't
refuse.
"I want to stay here," I say from the com-
fortable confines of summer. "Over where
you are the temperature is cold and the sun
is gone before dinner."
The University says these are minor
details. Coming back to school is not as bad
as I think, it contends.
"Not as bad as I think? Yes, from a dis-
tance you look harmless enough. But I
know you. As soon as I get back into the

Housing finds new solution to overcrowding

routine. pow! AII-nighters and long, tor-
turous assignments.
The Uni ersity says it has to have a little
fun.
"And that's just it." I say. "The reason not
to abandon lazy summer afternoons for
slushy November evenings. It's more fun
over here."
The University just looks at me.
I narrow my eyes. "Exactly how can yo
account for the dropoff in fun?"
The University says its not supposed to
be fun. It's supposed to be good for you.
But ...
The University dangles my season foot-
ball tickets before my eyes.
It's not playing fair using sports against
me. The football games make you forget
about all the work lying ahead. I'm begin-
ning to be pulled over the edge into Ann
Arbor.
The University reminds me about hocket
tickets. Do I want to miss the priority seat
ing I've built up?
The University points to the campus. I
see all the record stores beckon to mte.
And restaurants stay open till 3 a.m. Only
a big city or a college town has such luxu-
ry.
The tide of the University's reasoning
compels me along further toward Ann
Arbor. Summer appears lost.
And finally, the University produces *
diploma awaiting my name.
By now the University has built the
momentum of Niagara Falls and it swept
me over it in a barrel and back to class.
It happens to the best of us.
- David Wallace can be reached over e-
mail at davidmw(4umich.edu.
G . RINDIGTHE NIB

L iving in a residence hall is an impor-
tant part of nearly every first-year
student's experience at the University. In
time, unknown neighbors become the
familiar faces to dine with, talk to or even
borrow computer paper from in the wee
hours of night. Every year this process
hits a few snags as the traditional resi-
dence halls fill up, forcing students into
alternate arrangements. But this year,
rather than sacrifice the comfort of first-
year students in the already tight living
quarters, Housing officials used nontradi-
tional residence halls - generally those
lacking R a cafeteria and inhabited by
upperclass and graduate students - to
accommodate many new students.
Historically the University admits
more students than there is room for in
traditional residence halls because hous-
ing officials only can estimate how many
people accepted will commit to enroll-
ment and need a place to live. To com-
pensate for the lack of rooms, Housing
officials this year provided an intelligent
alternative to overflow triples and hastily
converted lounges. About 200 students
who did not fit into traditional residence
halls were placed in alternative housing
such as Fletcher Hall, Oxford and Vera
Baits. Consequently, the 320 overflow
triples from two years ago was brought
down to; the teens..
Although this solution separates first-
year students, it limits cramped quarters
and results in significant benefits. The
select first-year students room with peo-
ple of the same age and have the opportu-
nity to meet older, more experienced stu-
dents. The graduate students of other
floors often have advice on which classes

to take and what to find en route.
Furthermore, resident advisers are more
available in these new forms of housing
because they have less first-year students
to administer.
Because first-year students in the
other nontraditional housing are situated
near busroutes, transportation is provided
for those who live in Oxford. Oxford res-
idents receive free bus passes that run to
locations beyond the University campus.
Since the unconventional housing areas
lack a dining hall, first-year students may
use their entree plus card at any residence
hall cafeteria or opt to use the kitchen
area that comes with many of the rooms.
For the same price as the average 12-by-
12 inch dorm room, first-year students in
alternative housing have around the clock.
access to clean kitchens and obtain stor-
age to keep packaged foods.
Many students initially upset by the
shift in location now feel at home in the
unconventional residence halls. To pre-
vent alienation from other first-year stu-
dents, Housing should keep the younger
residents posted with campus events and
plan activities with traditional residence
halls. Then students could log onto the
University's Website to connect with
other peers and get involved with volun-
tary activities to meet new students.
Perhaps next year the alternative resi-
dence halls will be choices on the housing
forms sent out to new students over the
summer so new students can prepare. As
the semester progresses, new students
will form the usual roommate bonds and
find the created space allows more priva-
cy and a conducive atmosphere to accom-
plish studies.

CHIP CULLEN

i

The Michigan Daily welcomes Itters from,1l;
of its readers. Letters fron Itniversity students.'
faculty, staff and administrators will be given pri-
ority over others. All letters must include the
writer's name, phone number, and school year or
Universityaffiliation. The Daily will not print any
letter that cannot be verified. Ad hominem attacks
will not be tolerated.
Letters should be kept to approximately 300
words. The Michigan Daily reserves the right to
edit for length, clarity and accuracy. Longer
"viewpoints" may be arranged with an editor.
Letters will be run according to order received
and the amount of space available.
Letters should be sent over e-mail to dailv le-
ters (tumich.edu or mailed to the Daily at 420
Maynard St. Editors can be reached at 764-0552
or by sending e-mail to the above address. Letters
e-mailed to the Daily will be given priority over
those dropped off in person or sent via the US.
Postal Serv ice.

W6 are.t6- cjitrtle
t t

_

. r

School prayer debate arises in Texas

Small nu
First-year seminars offer reduced class sizes

W th the start of a new school year,
the feeling of insignificance by
many first-year students is so common
that everybody on campus notices it.
It can be seen on the faces of new stu-
dents as they walk quickly while trying to
find their classes using disproportionate
maps. The insecurity becomes conspicu-
ous when they spend more time on the
phone with their parents than they do
spend in class.
But most of all, the "small fish in a big
pond" syndrome is classified easiest
when new students are overheard whining
about the large size of their lecture cours-
es.
It is true. Many lecture courses consist
of hundreds of students for every section.
This is to be expected at such a large uni-
versity.
Unfortunately, many first-year stu-
dents are not ready for the intimidation
that fast-moving, impersonal lectures pre-
sent.
With the exception of courses that are
small by necessity at the University, such
as English 125 and Math 115, first-year
seminars are the only ones first-year stu-
dents can take that offer personal atmos-
pheres.
Fortunately, the first-year seminars are
top notch. Not only are the courses great
because they have small class sizes, but
they are, according to the first-year semi-
nar program guide, "taught by faculty
from across academic disciplines" and

First-year seminars enrich new stu-
dents' learning experiences. The small
class sizes allows them to participate
actively in discussion. The faculty mem-
bers who teach the courses allow for more
personal relationships between students
and instructors.
Also, the specialized topics-give many
first-year students the opportunity to
explore subjects that interest them early
on in college.
It cannot be stressed enough that first-
year students should take advantage of
this unique opportunity. First-year semi-
nars are not wasted credits; they fulfill
LSA area distributions and general,
requirements.
The University has done a wonderful
job in creating and expanding this pro-
gram. For the Fall 1999 semester, well
over 60 first-year seminar courses were
offered. The topics for the courses range a
broad spectrum.
Further expansion of this program
would also be beneficial, since most first-
year seminars fill up relatively quickly
once scheduling begins.
Also, the University has supported the
program well. But no matter how much
the program is encouraged, some first-
year students may be reluctant to take
first-year seminars, disregarding them as
unimportant.
To those skeptics, all that can be said is
that first-year seminars will do nothing
but help students develop the necessary

By the Daily Cougar
University of Houston
Last weekend's news that Santa Fe.
Texas, high school student Marian Ward
won a temporary legal order enabling her
to offer a prayer before her high school's
football opener kicked off a round of
debate across the nation regarding the
appropriateness of prayer in school set-
tings. No, make that another round of
debate in this perennial argument.
In this case, the Santa Fe school dis-
trict had decreed that no invocation or
blessing was to be allowed before football
games, in keeping with a decision by the
5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Ward,
17, decided to sue the district to protect
her right to free speech - and though it

is unclear whether she will win her suit,
the district, at least temporarily, cannot
edit or censor students' pregame speech-
es.
Is this a victory for freedom of speech?
Clearly. Not only did the school district
issue rules prohibiting religious refer-
ences in pregame speeches, but Ward said
school administrators threatened her if
she should accidentally slip and refer to
religion in her speech. What is more,
Santa Fe Superintendent Richard Ownby
said students who offered prayers before
games would be punished "as if they had
cursed."
That is shameful in itself, but even
more so when one takes into account the
federal courts' opinions on the matter.

Whereas the 11th Circuit Court in Atlan
had 'ruled it was acceptable to offa
pregame prayers, the 5th Circuit Court
said it was not.
And even the 5th Circuit's decision
does not make sense. The court ruled
nonsectarian, non-proselytizing prayer is
acceptable at commencements, but not at
football games. What's the difference?
Censor one, censor them all.
Critics have argued Ward was acting
under the pressure of adults - her father
is a Baptist minister - but it doesrn
seem that way.
Give the girl some credit for standing
up for what she believes in, and don't
make students afraid to express what they
believe in.

Band-Aids worsen racial wounds

By the Cavalier Daily
University of Virginia
A quick fix is just that. Nevertheless, affir-
mative action advocates routinely gloss over
the cracks in the foundation of the educational
system, instead trying to cover up with poli-
cies that do nothing to solve the larger prob-
lem.
After the University of California system
stopped its race-preference admissions poli-
cies, affirmative action advocates decried the
drop in minority enrollment. Although
Proposition 209 effectively addressed the
issue of quota systems and racial preferences,
the underlying problems haven't been
addressed.
Passed in California in 1996, Proposition
209 prohibits state universities from giving
preferential treatment to any group, effective-
ly eliminating all affirmative action programs.
Since then, the University of California at
Berkeley has used a strict grade-centric sys-
tem to admit students.
At face value, Proposition 209 is a good
policy; students are accepted based on their
achievements alone. Unfortunately, the differ-
ences in primary education create a gap for
which the new admissions policy cannot
account. Minorities and non-minorities from
lower socioeconomic backgrounds face an
indirect discrimination based on their local

offered much more frequently in more afflu- Pacific Islanders, and .27.1 percent for
ent areas. Hispanics.
Thus, expanding admissions criteria to One thing is apparent when assessing the
include factors outside of personal achieve- current situation in colleges such as UC-
ment seems an appropriate solution. Still, a Berkeley and the University of Texas: Low-
race-based college admission program is a income students on the whole are riot as well
band-aid remedy for a deeper problem. prepared to apply to college as their peers
Preferential policies are needed only because from more affluent backgrounds.
people from lower socioeconomic back- But to think the problem can be solved with
grounds - disparately minorities - aren't admissions policies is naive. An affirmative
receiving a proper education earlier in life. action policy only can admit students - it
The underlying problem in California - or can't prepare them and can't guarantee their
in any state - is the disparity in the quality of success. Anyone serious about improving the
education. Economic differences between situations of such students must look to th*
school districts create inequality even before formative years. Without the benefit ofa solid
college. Any real change in education policies education gained at a supportive school,
therefore must take place in primary and sec- chances of success seriously diminish.
ondary schools, before it's too late. Some proponents of Proposition 209 feel
It is no surprise that, academically, students that the new admissions policy has forced
from lower socioeconomic backgrounds fare some students into schools in which they are
worse than do those from wealthier upbring- a better fit. They feel that students who, under
ings. Higher income means more property previous policies, would have been admitted
taxes, better schools and so on. Moreover, to colleges above their academic level, instead
these wealthier students may have access to excel at other universities where they are
better outside resources, such as SAT prep in over their heads and can be given mo
courses or private tutors. attention.
This problem also is connected directly to Of course, while such an argument has its
urban flight. Families move towards suburbs merits, in the long term it is in no one's best
as they earn more money - often in search of interests to have low-income students attend-
better schools. Meanwhile, their departure ing lower-level colleges. In fact, there should
makes it impossible for the neighborhood be a proportionate number of lower-income

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