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October 01, 1999 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-01

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 1, 1999

aI e Ā£itgigtt Daig

De opresso liber! Sue your way to a better society

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

Editor in Chief
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.

'Handling' the overflow?
Broadcasting course ultimately hurts students

used to think there was no such thing as a
stupid lawsuit - only stupid people who
file them. I used to think of silly lawsuits as
one of society's worst ills, to be ranked right
up there with gang violence, The Backstreet
Boys, BAMN (not to
be confused with
Wham! - another
tragedy) and fatt
chicks in spandex. But k
I was wrong. Time
and closer examima-
tion have taught me
the error of my ways. f
We, as Americans,"
should all rejoice at
the lawsuit-happy
society we have Branden
become. Why, you
ask? Well, gentle Sanz
reader, let me explain Dropping
how wecancureallof the H m er
our problems through ________
this simple, innocuous
process known as "the lawsuit."
You've got problems, right? Hey, we all
do. But they are not incurable. That guy in
your history class thinks you're unattractive?
It's nothing a lot of plastic surgery won't fix.
You can't get that hot sorority girl to think
you're cool enough to go out with? Ask her if
she wants to go spend the weekend with you
on your private yacht in Barbados. She'll
think you're the coolest thing since they
invented Parliament Lights. You're failing
chemistry? Buy your professor a new car and
watch how quick you pass.
I know what you're thinking: "But all
those things take money - a lot of it -
which I don't have." Fear not. Continue read-
ing, and let me show you to the Promised
You can have all the money you want, and

this is where the lawsuit comes in. But you're
thinking: "I don't have anyone to sue." That's
just the point - you don't need to have a
valid reason for filing a lawsuit these days. In
fact, the more ridiculous it is, the better.
There are just two simple rules you need to
keep in mind:
RULE ONE: There is no such thing as an
accident. Anything unpleasant that ever hap-
pens in your life is someone's fault. There is
no such thing as "coincidence" an "Act of
God," a "freak occurrence," or a "mistake." It
is all part of a plot by The Man to keep you
RULE TWO: Nothing is ever yiour fault.
There is always someone else to blame-
generally the richer, the better. There are no
such things as "common sense" or "personal
responsibility," as these are merely fictions
created by a vast AmeriKKKan conspiracy to
keep people with less talent and intelligence
from having everything they want in life.
But you can beat the system. These rules
are failsafe, as at least one of them (and usu-
ally both) will always be valid. Armed with
this knowledge, you are now prepared to go
out, do battle, and carve out your own little
slice of the American Dream. I can hear your
skeptical minds at work. Want proof? Let's
examine some hypothetical situations and put
this theory to the test.
Example One: You decide to stop and get
some coffee. Not blessed with the common
sense God gave a horse's ass, you decide to
immediately gulp it down. Upon finding the
coffee is so hot it burns your mouth, you drop
it in shock, thereby burning your crotch area
as well. You sue the proprietor.
Rule One in action: This was no accident.
The coffee was too hot to drink immediately
and was obviously intended to burn anyone
who tried to do so. Rule Two in action: This
was not your fault. The people at the restau-

rant should have realized that you were stupid
and warned you verbally as well as in writing
that the coffee was too hot for immediate
Example Two: You are a professor taking
a vacation on a cruise ship, enjoying the
evening when suddenly a cocktail served in a
hollowed-out half coconut plummets from
the upper decks like the asteroid in
"Armageddon," smacking you in your
unwary head and causing slight brain dam-
age. You sue the cruise line.
Rule One in action: This was not an acci-
dent. The cruise line should have taken pre-
cautions to keep the hollowed-out coconuts
away from the railing, where they could be
dropped on unsuspecting passengers. It is
completely unimportant that a cocktail
served in regular glass could also injure
someone if dropped. Rule Two in action: It is
not your fault that you should have known
people drinking alcohol (as people on cruise
ships tend to do) might have less-than-perfect
motor skills, and as such might drop things. It
was not your fault your vaunted education
didn't impart the common sense to keep away
from an area that might be hit from falling
objects dropped by said intoxicated merry-
These are just a few of the many situa-
tions where the lawsuit is the perfect vehicle
for fighting back at - and profiting from -
the system that has oppressed you for so
long. Are you an athlete who got kicked off
the team due to a DUI? Sue. Did one of your
children get drunk and fall through a "too-
wide" window? Sue, baby! So go on! Get out
there! Drop your books, grab your cell-
phones and call your lawyer! We can all join
hands and sing together in a happy, perfect,
- Branden San: can be reached over e-
mail at hammerhead@umich.edu.


n this large University, students often find
themselves enrolled in massive lectures
with hundreds of their fellow Wolverines. This
year, students enrolled in Psychology 111
have a new way to get around classroom over-
crowding. To provide the class to the 1,310
students enrolled, the University cable system
is broadcasting the class this semester. This
seems like a fine idea on the surface. But a
look at its deeper implications reveals several
disturbing problems.
Only 600 students can actually see the lec-
ture live. With the class on television, the
amount of people who can see the lectures is
doubled. Students who miss the lecture due to
illness or other problems can catch up on what
they may have missed. Televised lectures thus
appear to help students a great deal. This
seemingly perfect solution is in fact only a
Band-Aid for a much more serious wound.
By televising lectures, Psych. 111 is doing
education at the University a great disservice.
One of the most important parts of college life
and learning is the social aspect. Lectures
gather large numbers of students together to
learn from a professor in person. Students
who stay at home and watch their class on
television miss out on this entirely.
Additionally, they cannot talk with their pro-
fessor or their fellow students. Asking ques-
tions is a vital part of learning.
Personal attention is key to education. In
under-funded public schools, the blame for
poor education is often placed on the ridicu-
lously large class sizes. This holds true in col-
lege as well. University students need person-
al interaction with educators to optimize their
learning experience. Gathered together with a

professor in a single room, students can learn
far more effectively.
Students are not the only people hurt by
televised lectures. Faculty and potential facul-
ty take a blow. If 1,000 people can simply sit
down and watch a professor on television,
then why hire two professors to teach 500 stu-
dents each? Professois are key contributors to
the learning and research environment that
makes the University a top-notch institution.
Televising classes is an interesting but ulti-
mately flawed experiment. Unless the
University does something to contain the tide
of students overflowing Psych. 111 and other
popular classes, it may soon end up plummet-
ing down the academic rankings.
If the number of students enrolled in a
class exceeds the ability of a single professor
to teach them, then the University must do
something other than allow the problem to
grow. Televising a lecture only encourages the
number of students enrolled to escalate fur-
ther. Instead, the University should hire more
professors to teach students in smaller, more
manageable groups. If it is unwilling to do
this, then it must simply buckle down and cut
off the number of students it will allow to
enroll. Either one of these alternative solu-
tions, or a combination of the two, would go a
long way towards rectifying the currently
unacceptable situation.
Anything that compromises the
University's ability to educate must be avoid-
ed. Televising lectures degrades the quality of
classes. The administration must find a better
solution to overcrowding, or else students will
quickly find they are no longer receiving what
they came here for - quality education.








Explicit behavior
Student-teacher romances damage entire 'U'

I n a university setting, relationships
between students and teachers occa-
sionally occur. But the question of what
should be done about these relationships
remains to be answered.
Apparently, the University feels that it
should have some say in the resolution of
this problem. The Senate Advisory
Committee on University Affairs met
recently to consider revising its position
on teacher-student relationships.
Although no formal resolution was
reached, the University frowns on the
practice of teacher-student relationships
- and it should. Relationships between
students and teachers are ultimately detri-
mental to the classroom environment and
to the University image, and it's up to stu-
dents and staff to make sure they do not
While the University looks down on
relationships between students and teach-
ers, it does not prohibit them, nor should
it. The University is an academic institu-
tion, not a parent, and personal decisions
should be left to students. But the
University community expects students
and staff to realize the negative effects
such relationships can have.
While a college' classroom environ-
ment is certainly different from a high
school learning situation, students and
teachers are still far from equals. College
professors and GSIs may be encouraged
to meet outside of class and discuss mate-
rial in-depth, but at the end of the semes-
ter, the teacher still has to give the student
a grade.

lows. Other students may feel uncomfort-
able in a class where one student is made
a favorite. Furthermore, judgement may
be clouded when it comes time for the
teacher to evaluate the student's perfor-
mance. By commencing in relationships,
teachers and students disrupt the quality
and process of education at the
But far from simply hurting one class,
these relationships can have further nega-
tive effects. Teachers and students must
consider the possibility of their relation-
ships becoming public knowledge.
After word of a teacher student rela-
tionship becomes public, the possibilities
of damage are almost limitless. It may
lead to conflict within the teachers staff,
which diminishes the quality of educa-
tion. It may tarnish the University's pub-
lic image, leading to a decrease in fund-
ing. Whatever the effects may be, it is
clearly safe to say that they won't be pos-
Despite the negative effects teacher-
student relationships pose, the University
is showing a certain respect for students
and teachers by not placing more empha-
sis on the problem. They are leaving the
decision up to students and faculty to
make sure that these relationships don't
After all, any penalties the University
might impose would pale in comparison
to the problems such a relationship would
bring on multiple scales. Students and
teachers should acknowledge the result-
ing ripple effect of their actions reaches

Popularity of sports
varies due to
I am writing in response to the editorial
which said that women's sports should get
just as much fan support as men's sports
because the athletes work just as hard and
the teams are often successful ("In the lime-
light," 9/29/99). Since when does hard work
and practice give you the "right" to equal
support from fans? If they have a right to
the support then the University should
implement quotas on minimum fans and we
should all be fined for violating their rights.
Why are students supposed to support
women's sports or any sport for that matter
based on how hard they work and their
record? While I am not arguing that these
athletes don't deserve respect, I think there
is a difference between respecting some-
thing and wanting to watch it. I have plenty
of respect for men's and women's swim-
ming and track, but I have no desire to go
watch them and neither do most people.
That is why few people are there. You also
stated that people should go to softball
games instead of baseball games because
the baseball program has struggled with the
exception of last year. Do you think fans
should abandon teams if they aren't award
winning? Don't these players still work hard
and "juggle the same tough schedules"?
While I hope for the best for all sports at
Michigan, I will, and I suspect most people
will, continue to actively support sports
teams based on what we find the most excit-
ing and fun to watch - not on how hard the
players practice or because some editorial
told us to do so.
Student careerism
takes precedent
over altruism
I am frustrated. I just got back from the
career fair on North Campus and it was a
feeding frenzy. Yes, blood, rather money
was in the water and there were about a
thousand ready and able sharks taking part.
Recently, I found myself reevaluating
my career choices. Why do I want to be an
engineer, what is the social benefit? I don't
know, who do I really help making
Cheerios? For the most part, engineers
spend their time making the rich richer. I
am not asking anyone to shut down North
Campus because there is a lot of worthwhile
stuff going on up there. Students are too
money driven, though. I frequently ask why
there is so much competition; the usual
answer is, "I want to get into the best com-
pany or law school." Translation: they want
the most prestige and money when they



r_: -


Everyone can volunteer in some form or
another. If you go to the University's
Website (ww unmich.edu/-volunteer), there
are hundreds of ways that you can do some-
thing about it. I promise that once you do
one good thing for a community, you will
want to do another, and another, and anoth-
er. But if this school continues on this cur-
rent course of money over all else, I want
Reporting on Life
Sciences Institute
is uncritical
The Daily's uncritical reporting of the
Life Science Institute and the subject of the
role of life sciences research in general is
disturbing. The fact is that people all over
the world are currently engaged in a battle
to save their food supplies from genetic and
economic manipulation. Life science
research at the University is basically a tax-
payer subsidy for corporate research and
development so that large companies can
own patents on world foodgrains and liter-
ally monopolize and dominate food produc-
tion globally just so they can make profit.
As a student who comes out of a long tradi-
tion of farming, I seriously challenge you to
read your history regarding the current
trends in the area of biotechnology and agri-
cultural business.
Chant does not
signal a first down
This is a response to James Cotton, who
wrote a letter insisting that the Seminole

Feminism should
focus on boosting
women's self-image
Usually, I mind my business. I am not one
to stare at accidents or lead protests, but the
blatant display of ignorance irritates me.
Feminism might mean different things to dif-
ferent people, but to me, it is the idea that all
genders (men, women, myn, womyn or what-
ever) are equal. Hence, I am a feminist. I am
neither militant nor a man-hater so it always
amazes me when someone says that I believe
that "the external world has crushed the poor,
innocent victim of male torment and torture"
("T-shirt letter was overly sensitive," 9/23/99).
When I read the letter about the frat T-
shirts, I was not outraged. I was not even a lit-
tle angry. To be honest, all I felt was a little
sadness for the boys wearing the shirts. To me,
their slogan did not imply that they only want-
ed thin women. What it implied was that all
they wanted from females was their bodies.
Simple as that. Women are a lot more than that
so I felt sorry for the boys. It was just a display
of pure unadulterated immaturity.
Even though as Rabeh Soofi said, "T-
shirts do not make you fat and unattractive,"
the media and outside opinions play important.
parts in people's lives in this culture. So,
Christina Koury and Simi Dhawan have a
point. However, I believe the feminist move-
ment should not focus on preventing men
from making stupid statements like this, but
on making women have enough self-esteem to
ignore them. Feminism should focus on mak-
ing a woman realize that her self-worth does
not depend on what other people, men for
example, think of her.
It is true that eating disorders are prevalent
in this society. We also realize that many fac-
tors contribute to it. I think Rabeh Soofi's
belief that "a thin girl ... takes care of herself
and values herself enough to keep in shape"
adds to it. We all know that we all have differ-
ent metabolic rates. Some people are made to
be skinny while some others are made to be
plump. Who is to say that the plump girl does
not "value herself?" How do you know she is
not a healthily eater who exercises properly?
Or is valuing yourself restricting your meals to
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