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September 06, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-09-06

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 6, 2000

cat 1 E ' nt ttil

An open letter to all incoming first-ye

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

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

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.

The Daily's take on summer news

C ongratulations on your acceptance to one
of the best and most prestigious universi-
ties in the country! Now, go ahead and forget
all that crap you've heard your whole life about
how smart you are,
what a hard worker you
are, how you are better"
than the average Joe go-
show-for-it. Why?
Because none of it mat-
ters anymore. There are
38,000 people here and Branden
every single one of $anZ
them is either smarterD
or harder working than
the mean. You are in a a; e ;
big pond now and
chances are you are no longer at the top of your
intellectual food chain. Not special - merely
average. Get used to it.
Once you've gotten yourself into the proper
mind set and learned a few of the ground rules,
you will find college to be a great experience,
one of the most interesting and exciting times
of your life. So I have taken it upon myself to
provide you with a little advance warning on
some of the little quirks of life at the University.
which we battle-tested upperclassmen take for
granted, but can be quite overwhelming for the
Classes. Aside from the few individuals who
are only here because they couldn't get into
Harvard like daddy and are sliding through col-
lege in an alcoholic/marijuana-induced haze
listening to Phish and watching reruns of Sur-

vivor because their only goal in life is to gradu-
ate so they can receive their inheritance (I hate
you), most of us are primarily here to get an
education. Not just get a C- and move on, but
to actually learn something.
At any university this large, you are going to
have good professors as well as bad ones. Some
of them are utterly (and in the case of English
and Religion Prof. Ralph Williams and History
Prof. Sydney Fine, painfully) brilliant. However,
some of them just plain bad. Some have been
tenured for decades and done nothing but lec-
tured for so long that the only thing they want to
hear is the sound of their own voice and could
give two shits whether you actually learn any-
thing as long as they continue to draw their pay-
check. Many are research studs and techno
geeks that have the communicative ability of a
tree stump. Science and engineering classes are
notorious for this, so be prepared.
The situation with your Graduate Student
Instructors will be similar. While most GSIs are
more zealous about you actually learning any-
thing than your professors, you still have your
good ones and bad ones. If your GSI actually
speaks English, count your lucky stars, because
you are already ahead of the curve. While this
may not mean anything except the fact that you
become intimately acquainted with phrases like
"ad hoc,""a priori," and "paradigm" you will at
least get something from the class.
Causes. Over the course of your college
career, you will invariably be made aware of
various causes people around here are crusad-
ing on behalf of. You might have someone try
and convince you that communism is an ideal
social system. Amnesty International may try
and convince you that sleeping outside on the
Diag for a night, wrapped up in a $300
Bivouac sleeping bag is the way to help some-
one being starved and tortured in Algeria.

ir students
Preacher Bob could call on you to repent
before your foul practice of masturbation and
idolatry sends you to Hell. Most of us seniors
already know we're doomed anyway and just
ignore him, but first-year students tend to get
caught up in his fervor. My whole point is that'
causes, in and of themselves, are not bad
things. But don't throw out everything you
have learned over 18 years just because some-
one seems to have all the answers. They don't.
Just because something is shiny and new,
doesn't make it necessarily better.
Alcohol. A good portion of being young,,
free and irresponsible is the consumption of
alcohol in copious amounts. No, I am not
championing binge-drinking, but I realize it is
going to happen. However, as a first-year stu-
dent (and thus underage) you have to be smart.
Do not get drunk and wander aimlessly about
campus on a Saturday night in packs of 10-15. '
You might as well just scream out: "Hey! I'm
shitfaced! Give me an MIP!" You can drink at
house parties, but with the AAPD having too
much money, too many personnel, and too little
respect for your constitutional rights, any seri-
ous rager of a house party has a good chance of
being busted. You're better off sticking with
frat parties. The Greek System on campus has
an agreement with the AAPD, so it generall
takes a Serious Incident (something along tli
lines of a reported felony or an accidental
death) for the police to get involved. Oh and,
for you female first-year students: My since.@
advice is to attend as many parties and meet R
many people as possible during your firsf term,
before the Freshman Fifteen sets in.
Good luck and enjoy your stay here.
Next week: The comprehensive guide to.
Football Saturdays.
- - Branden Sanz can be reached via e-mai
at hamrhead@numich.edit.

W hile the weather may have been
mild in Ann Arbor this sum-
mer, the news was not. Here's the
lowdown on what issues reared their
head while you were away from cam-
pus - and will surely be garnering
attention this fall.
Hospital food service gets shafted
The University Hospitals
announced plans to outsource many
of its food service and janitorial jobs
to Aramark, a food service company,
in an effort to cut $4 million from its
budget. The currently unionized
workers allege a breach of contract
with the University Hospitals and the
Board of Regents.
Not only is the University obligat-
ed to honor contracts and adequately
provide for its workers, but the move
highlights a disturbing increase in the
outsourcing of labor and hiring of
temporary workers in both private and
public sectors to increase profitability
above human needs. It also puts the
University in the position of harming
workers and their families because of
lowered wages and inadequate insur-
ance benefits.
With more than $1 billion in cash
reserves, the University Hospitals
have more than enough money to take
a loss in order to reevaluate its infra-
structure and re-appropriate funding
that will save jobs. Lopping off jobs
from the lowest rung may be a quick
fix, but the effects are detrimental to
w the community and the hospital envi-
ronment through decreased loyalty,
lowered productivity and jilted
employees as a result of reduced
wages and decreased benefits.
Workers say that the hospital's
budget could be reduced by reorga-
nizing the top-heavy bureaucracy that
runs it. The University should not
replace University employees with
disposable Aramark food service
company workers and look into
changing the structure of the hospital
A new athletic era?
The always attention-garnering
T Athletic Department hired Bill Martin
as the University's 10th Athletic
Director this summer. Martin was
userving as interim in the wake of a
string of scandals.
Stabilizing the Athletic Depart-
ment's financial situation will be
Martin's most immediate concern. In
the recent past the department has
grossly mismanaged its budget and
finished two straight fiscal years in
the red. Even worse, Nike decided to
drop out of discussions to renew its
apparel contract with the University.
Martin has decided-to partially reme-
dy the department's financial situa-
tion by raising ticket prices.
Of arguably equal concern is a per-
ceived lack of internal communica-
tion and accountability within the
Athletic Department. Furthermore,
Martin has also pledged to improve
the track facilities and build a much-
needed new baseball stadium. These
are both worthy goals but Martin's
energy should be primarily focused
on keeping the department within its

budget and cleaning up the depart-
ment's image.
Activists need to work with FLA
Of interest to the anti-sweatshop
movement is University President Lee
Bollinger's decision to join the Fair
Labor Association in addition to the
Worker's Rights Consortium. Campus
activists are concerned that the FLA

is backed by Nike and other compa-
nies they accuse of using sweatshops.
The WRC is mostly comprised of col-
lege students and does not have the
finances or the infrastructure to suffi-
ciently monitor worker's rights viola-
tions around the world. Activists
should be willing to work with the
better-funded FLA, despite the con-
flicts of interest, because it is for the
overall good of their cause.
Affirmative action gets GM support
General Motors filed an amicus
brief with the federal court for Michi-
gan's eastern district, supporting the
University's position in the admis-
sions lawsuits brought against the
college of Literature, Science and the
Arts and the Law School. The Center
for Individual Rights, a Washington
D.C.-based legal advocacy group,
brought the suit against the Universi-
ty on behalf of two rejected white
applicants. General Motors rightly
decided to file the brief in support of
the University because of the large
number of University graduates they
hire and the need to have workers
from a diverse educational environ-
ment in order to best compete in the
global economy.
Men's soccer upgrade is a mixed bag
After more than 50 years of club
status, the men's soccer team was ele-
vated to varsity status this summer.
Unfortunately, rather than provide
them with adequate facilities, the
Athletic Department is having them
play on Elbel Field, displacing the
numerous other student recreational
activities that take place there.
While students in general will be
disadvantaged by the decrease in time
they will be able to use Elbel Field -
one of the few open spaces reserved
for student use - the men's soccer
team will also be hurt by having a
facility torn up by club sports partici-
pants on a regular basis, leaving them
at a disadvantage to other varsity
teams. It is no secret that this is a
sport-affirming school. So it is sur-
prising that both varsity athletes and
frisbee afficionados would be getting
a slight shaft. The men's soccer team
needs its own field and the rest of us
should get to keep our Elbel.
Free music may not be here to stay
Napster also got its day in court -
and lost badly. Their site was shut
down by a court injunction until an
appeals court granted a last minute
reprieve. In effect, as long as none of
the 18 recording companies suing
Napster own any of the songs being
downloaded, Napster servers can
remain online until the retrial this fall.
But this court action won't slow the
flow of digital music proliferating
over the net. With a host of download-
able Napster alternatives that provide
decentralized servers and no central
company to attack, we can count on
free music to remain a burgeoning
new facet of campus life for at least
the near future.
None of the issues directly or indi-
rectly affected by this summer's
events have been resolved. There are

a variety of student groups on campus
that will be trying to influence the
eventual outcome of everything from
the University's affirmative action
lawsuits to its contract with Nike to
how use of its athletic facilities is
allocated. The best way for students
to get themselves heard is to stay
informed and get involved.

'They only let In hot chicks.'

- LSA first-year student Danielle Kirov
on fraternity parties.

'U' should rethink
affirmative action
I was in a conversation with a friend recent-
ly regarding affirmative action at the University
and I was saddened by thought that such a fine
institution should choose to blemish its name by
accepting students unconstitutionally.
I have always been a fan of civil rights, yet
some people feel that my beliefs contradict this
statement. I think back to Dr. Martin Luther
King who always wanted people to judge him
"not by the color of his skin, but by the content
of his character." Here at the University, our
admissions office and others who advocate
affirmative action actually insist that people be
judged by pigment, not merit.
This creates a division between people who
were accepted for competitive reasons such as
ACT scores or GPA and those who were able to
represent a minority. Frankly, I feel that the
diversity of ideas and beliefs is what makes the
University great. It is trivial and superficial to
call a student body "diverse" due to color.
I urge people to support diversification of
our school, but the answer so far chosen is the
easy way out of a tough situation. This does not
justify us to use affirmative action. I also chal-
lenge those students who constantly circulate
petitions for affirmative action to examine other
ways of combatting the problem of diversity.
Our University is what we make of it and we
owe it to ourselves to make it the best place
New online class
registration system
is 'a disaster'
The new online registration system, which
the University has paid millions of dollars for,
replaces the old telephone registration system
and the old Wolverine access system.
The old system was delightfully easy to use:
You look up your division/course/section num-
bers in the schedule of classes, call a phone sys-
tem that has you punch in your Social Security
Number, a validation code (your birthdate or a
code of your choosing), and then follow a few
simple menus to add and drop courses. You
could look up the course availability, your
grades and even order official and download
unofficial transcripts from the 128-bit secured
web page.
The new system is a disaster.
It is hampered by a lack of documentation
- who would know you need to enter labs
before lectures or the system rejects a class
add? It is considerably slower than the old sys-
tem at searching course numbers and perform-
ing add/drop transactions.
It will not work through a firewall, which
limits a number of access points to the system (I
could previously access this from anywhere in

rent schedule of classes in front of you need to
first perform a search to look up the new num-
The search system doesn't understand the
subject names or old course numbers, so you
need to do a search for all subjects first, then for
all courses in that subject, making it less useful
than just displaying a list of all courses alpha-
betically and their course numbers.
When adding a course and not having the
course number, there is a way to browse the
course catalog - but it does not show more
than eight course numbers in the window, and
there is no way to scroll, so many of the lab/dis-
cussion sections (which need to be selected
before it will allow a lecture to be selected) do
not appear.
You cannot disenroll from a term online,
even before the term starts, which the old sys-
tem let you do. You cannot download unofficial
transcripts or request official transcripts through
the new system.
Finally, the new system uses 40-bit encryp-
tion - a step backwards from the old system
which supported 128-bit.
I now know where my $80 a term registra-
tion fee is going - I have been wondering why
registration was so expensive because in the 8
previous semesters at the University, registra-
tion seemed painless and fully automated;
apparently, the University felt it needed to
spend more of its limited resources on another
product it did not need.
Students should
support English 317
We are writing to support in the strongest
terms David Halperin's course, English 317:
How to Be Gay. We want to be clear at the out-
set that we think that support for the course is
not just a matter of academic freedom but con-
cerns an equally important principle - stand-
ing up to bigotry in all its forms.
It strikes us that the criticisms of the course

were not well informed about the content and
aim of the course, in that they seem to confuse
examining questions of social construction
with brainwashing and recruiting. This is pro-.
foundly disrespectful of University students,
whose sexual identities are viewed as blowing
in the wind.
Even if the critics were more precise in
their attacks on the course, we would still sup-
port Prof. Halperin's course in the name of aca-
demic freedom. The assumption that being
straight is normative is just as prevalent in the
University's curriculum as is the assumptiog
that to be white is to be without race and to !
male is to be without gender. This courte
attempts to carve out a space to talk about sub-
cultural practices and queer studies, and to
examine the cultural trappings of gay identity.
The University has a responsibility to its
community to provide space for that discusd
sion, as it has for the discussion of issues of
race, ethnicity and gender in its sincere effort
to enrich the diversity of our community and
its intellectual life. We take for granted now
that Women's Studies, Ethnic Studies and
African and African-American Studies are an
important part of the curriculum, but not so
long ago they were as contested as English 31.
is today.-
In supporting English 317, we, the under
signed graduate students in the Department of
Political Science, support multiculturalism and
academic freedom and denounce homophobia.
- This letter was written by Rackham
students Irfan sooruddin, Khristina Had-
dad, Joan Sitomer, Veronica Revna, MarekO
Steedman, Ted Miller. Aaron Stern, Amit
Ahuja, Yunju Nam, Todd Austin, Debra
Horner Dulcey Simpkins, Laura Evans,
Cindy Kam, Carrie Konold, Ryan Hudson,
Deniz Erkmen, Regina Bakt, Lara Rusch,
Laura Wernick, Encarnac ion Anderson,
Pam Ramsever Luis Fuentes-Rowher, Nick
Jorgensen, Anna Maria Ortiz, Susan Mof-
fitt, Devra Coren, Ifeoma Okwuje, Nick
Winter, Alex Yeo, Katherine VasetskvyO
Debra Cohan, Harwood McClerking, Char-
lene Allen, Joshua Bauroth, Kevin Mail-
lard, Ryan Rvnbrandt, Denise Degarmo,
Todd Allee, Paula Pickering, Mike Han mer
and Kristina Miler

"ZZ ICm4 Sky TAhT


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