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November 13, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-11-13

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 13, 2000

cII 1£i}i{&nf Datlg

Finally an enlightening academic experience at the 'U'

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

MIKE SPAHN
Editor in Chief
EMILY ACIIENBAUM
Editorial Page Editor

am trying to pinpoint when I developed a
seething hatred for classes, and I can't
remember. As I inch toward graduation, my
time on the hamster wheel that has been my
liberal arts education is winding down. The
aura of grandly serious and bea utiful learn-
ing that permeates
from the undergradu-
ate library's reading

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.

Mwtown's ovin up
New initiatives promise to benefit Detroit

room and the columns
of Angell Hall inspires
me and then mocks
me. It is sacrilegious
and malicious to my
instructors to say I
have not learned much
here.
To say I haven't
learned here is a lie.
It's just that classes are
not the central part of
my University educa-
tion. This is probably
true of most people.
but the mental shut-

Emily
Achenbaum
Diarro If
41 ouh

was probably the best learning experience of
my college career. After doing volunteer
work and internships, you see the difference
a degree makes.
What did you expect, says the voice. You
chose to attend a major research institution,
where undergrads are somewhere between a
distraction and irritation. You should have
gone to a small, nurturing school.
But I wanted a big school. I have initia-
tive. I never wanted anything to be handed to
me.
Why don't you try attending class regu-
larly and doing your reading -- you might be
surprised by what you discover, says both the
voice in my head and kind-hearted but frus-
trated professors.
I guess it's true that you can't force some-
thing that isn't meant to be. Am I really not
working up to my potential, or is it that I am
learning more outside of class and so that's
where I concentrate my energy? What is
wrong with that? It's just like the criticism
many of us get in our romantic lives. But we
do not run because we fear commitment. We
run because we fear commitment to the
wrong person.
I've had three, yes, three, enlightening
academic experiences (out of countless, yes,
countless crappy and many mediocre ones)
over the past four years that warranted the
higher education hoopla I was spoon-fed in
prep school: Two independent studies in psy-
chology (Qne on divorce, one on eating disor-
ders) and the English department's New
England Literature Program. In each of these
experiences, I was entrusted with my own
education.
Like friends who are loyal, those that are
good to me are rewarded back. So I'm excit-
ed to participate in NELP's mass meeting
this week.
This program reminded me that acade-

mics can be happily obsessive, and when not
distracted by Polo Sport, Skeep's. remember-
ing to pay Visa and finding keys, many of us
are scholars. Life experience is education.
That is why I find the classroom so stifling.
Once you get the hell out of Angell Hall, you
start to understand what they mean by acade-
mic freedom.
Taking place during spring term on a lake
in New Hampshire, NELP is eight credits of
English - the most rigorous formal academ-
ic work I've ever done. We learned what we
were living: New England history and cul-
ture; the area's authors and their works. I
wrote more than 250 pages in a journal.
NELP is a small group of students and facul-
ty, and yet still you get lost. But not because
you're a number. Lost in writing, the ideas of
your peers, the woods, a book, your own
head.
Academic purists sniff at programs like
NELP. Because going to the library for flirt-
ing/studying, doing the crossword puzzle
during lecture and filling out scantrons is an
education. NELP takes place in the woods.
There are no stone columns and stained-
glass windows. There is no Internet. I try to
restrain from patronizing smiles when poli
sci students who've never traveled further
out of the U.S. than Windsor and Cancun
argue Russian policy with a tone that sug-
gests they grew up in the Kremlin.
We read Thoreau where he wrote it. Edu-
cation is not about lecture halls.
Perhaps education is the ultimate human
wanting. In a few months I will have a
degree that suggests I had a tidy college edu-
cation. In a few months, I will finally have
complete freedom from 1.5-inch margins and
regimented syllabi and be able to learn the
way I want to.
- Emilv Achenbaum can be reached via
e-mail at emilvlsa@umich.edu.

A short drive down Woodward Avenue
can be quite an eye-opening experi-
ence. Imagine it is Saturday afternoon
and you're heading south on Woodward
at 15 Mile road. This puts you in down-
town Birmingham, a very well-to-do
suburb of Detroit. A glance in any direc-
tion reveals fashionably dressed folks,
nice restaurants, cafes, stores and tasteful
landscaping. But, as you are trying to
keep up with the lightning flow of traffic,
this picturesque scene does not last long.
A few minutes later, you whiz past a
sign that reads "8 Mile Road.' You
might as well be on a
different planet. Gone is A cleaner,
the endless array ofD -
quaint shops. Aban- Detroit Wi
doned buildings and businesse
liquor stores that cower .
behind iron gates have Jobs, boos
replaced the Gap and the morale ant
designer Kroger where
sushi is sold. Long- economy.
neglected empty lots
swell with weeds and
ankle-deep grass. Garbage is strewn
everyhere.
Welcome to the Motor City.
As Detroit's 300th birthday rapidly
approaches, the city is more in need of
revitalization than ever before. Finally, it
looks like help is on the way. Last Thurs-
day, Detroit mayor Dennis Archer
announced a multi-faceted plan to
improve the city: Cleaning up aban-
doned lots, towing away old cars and
demolishing crumbling buildings. In
addition, he is calling for tougher penal-
ties and stiffer fines for conniving auto
mechanics and litterbugs, respectively.
Archer even pulled deputy mayor Fre-
man Hendrix from his school board
position, naming him overseer of the
project.
Archer's concerns reach beyond the
appearance of the city; Detroit's public
safety and economic future are also in
line for tune-ups. Specifically, the police
and fire departments will be carefully
examined to ensure, among other things,

t
d

that firefighters have adequate equipment
and police officers are protecting Detroi-
ters without overstepping their bounds.
Overall, these concrete measures will
do more for Detroit than Comerica Park
or glossy magazine ad campaigns ever
will. This is because the long-term eco-
nomic advantages of building casinos
and subsidizing other big development
projects downtown are uncertain.
Archer's new initiatives run in tandem
with the draw of these new business ven-
tures to emphasize a vision for a more
livable and beautiful Detroit.
While some have
brighter criticized Archer for
attract waiting until now to
address these longtime
provide problems - this being
the eve of an election
community year and Archer's sev-
feed the enth year as mayor -
his efforts should be
commended. A clean-
er, brighter Detroit will
attract businesses, pro-
vide desperately needed jobs, boost com-
munity morale and feed the economy.
Any measures that will help bring com-
mercial enterprise and, in turn, tourism to
the city of Detroit will easily benefit the
entire state of Michigan. There is no rea-
son that Detroit cannot become more like
Chicago or New York City - a place
that its residents are proud to call home
and its visitors are sorry to leave behind.
But why let Archer have all the fun?
Volunteers are essential to such a vast
undertaking. Campus organizations like
the Detroit Project (http://www.
umich.edu/~thedp) are always looking
for extra hands in their days of lot clean-
ups, playground construction and, yes,
building demolition. Getting involved is
easy and the rewards are great.
This kind of optimism is just what
Detroit needs. Archer's plan may spark
the beginning of a veritable revolution in
the city, but it is going to take a great
deal of hard work and determination to
keep that fire going.

down I experience crossing the threshold
lecture halls on campus is disappointing.
Once I decided I didn't trust GSI's three
years my senior that put discussion sections
in groups to make posters with my educa-
tion, I took the task of upon myself. I have
obtained a tremendous education here - the
less time I spend on classes, the more time I
can use to teach myself: Personal reading
and writing, visiting lecturers and film festi-
vals, my peers, the Daily. It's guiltily whor-
ish: All I want from the University at this
point is a piece of paper, and I'll pay the tab
to get it. Neither party really cares whether
any more than that comes from the deal. If
you hate school so much, why don't you
leave? A fair question for my gripes. Well I
did, for a little while. A year off from college

0

'This type of drinking isn't necessarily about a rite of
passage or being a young adult.'
- Frank Cianciola, Interim Dean of Students on Engineering sophomore
Byung-Soo Kim, who is in critical condition at University Hospitals after
drinking 20 shots of Scotch whiskey early Saturday morning.

Antiquated elections
Electoral college impedes democracy
T his year's election has presented the should be maintained to preserve the
nation with a unique situation: strength of the two national parties and
While Al Gore has probably won the force candidates to address less populous
opular vote nationwide, George W. states' issues. The winner-take-all sys-
ush appears prepared to win more elec- tem unfairly squelches the voice third
toral votes . This has happened twice and fourth political parties and national
before - 1876 and l888 and has politics could only gain from an
renewed interest in the method of elect- increased diversity of viewpoints. It is
ing the president - through the anti- unlikely that a direct popular election
q uated Electoral College system. would increase regional campaigning
Because this system unfairly represents because candidates already campaign in
the public will and because it has out- the most populated states.
lived its intended purpose,_the president Meanwhile, critics argue that the
should be elected system is fundamen-
through a direct popular The direct election tally unfair to voters
election. because votes have
The framers of the of the different weights in
constitution invented the different states and
Electoral College to pre- and vice-president voter turnout in vari-
vent the pro lems a ous states is not
direct popular election willfour taken into considera-
might cause: They fearedf tion. Each vote
poor communication and commitment to a should bear the same
regionalism would splin- weightbnationwide
ter the popular vote into a ra - se-- and in a time of
number of regionalcan-r broad-based erendums, initia-
didates, and that the pub- democracy.tives and the direct
lic could be manipulated J election of everyone
or ill informed. They also from drain commis-
feared political parties: The original sys- sioner to U.S. senators, the people
tem gave the presidential runner-up the should be able to choose the president
vice-presidency. Today these concerns through a direct national election.
seem ridiculously antique; instantaneous A constitutional amendment pro-
national communication and two domi- posed first in 1977 - and most recently
nate political parties produce an atmos- in 1992 - would provide for the direct
phere where a splintered popular vote is election of the president and if no candi-
rare, and the public has a wealth of infor- date wins 40 percent, a run-off election
mation about national candidates. There between the two most popular tickets.
is little evidence that the Electoral Col- This amendment, supported by the
lege system counteracts a manipulated or League of Women Voters, Common
ignorant public - electors almost Cause, the Chamber of Commerce of the
always vote for the candidate they United States, the AFL-CIO and many
pledged to elect. Since the reasons why other groups, should be adopted in order
the constitutional framers argued for to maintain the integrity of our democra-
such a system no longer exist, why do tic process. The direct election of the
some argue for the continued preserva- president and vice-president will fulfill
tion of the Electoral College system ? our commitment to a broad-based
The primary arguments for the democracy, and prevent the election of a
preservation of the electoral college sys- president who has not won a majority of
tem are these: That the current system the popular vote.

Lehman should have
provided applicants'
test scores, GPAs
TO THE DAILY:
Proponents of affirmative action have a
tendency to use faulty statistics in defense
of this policy. Case in point, Law School
Dean Jeffrey Lehman's recent letter about
the acceptance rates for blacks and whites
for the University Law School ("Article
could have misrepresented Law School
admissions," 11/6/00).
In hi's letter Lehman insinuated that
whites are not discriminated against
because they have a 38 percent acceptance
compared to blacks who have a 35 percent
acceptance rate. These rates can not be
accurately compared unless the applicants
have the same scores. A much better com-
parison would be the acceptance rates for
applicants with an LSAT score of 160-162
and a grade point average of 3.2-3:4. By
using a comparison such as this one, we
can accurately judge the weight given to
race. I do believe that their are benefits to
affirmative action, I just wish proponents
would stop dismissing the costs. As some-
one with an undecided opinion about affir-
mative action. I would like to see Lehman
submit this comparison in order to judge if
the costs outweigh the benefits.
MATTHEW BARKOFF
BUSINESS SENIOR
Anti-Scott chalIki ngs
served 'no purpose'
TO THE DAILY:
As a Jewish student at the University, I am
deeply offended that some (presumably) Jew-
ish students chose to address the "Agree with
Scott" Christian group by drawing Jewish stars
and writing names such as 'Schlomo' in highly
visible areas throughout the Diag. In a sensitive
time in Jewish relations both intra-campus and
with the exterior, such lowbrow vandalism
does nothing to promote Jewish students' inter-
ests nor address the issues which the "Agree
with Scott" group has published. For those
who wish to respond to this group, I urge you
to join in their offer of debating and discussing
their ideas about God and religion. Graffiti
such as "anyone who agrees with Scott is a
tool" did not serve any purpose other that the
self-gratification of those who committed this
act. Your parents would be ashamed.
JORDAN NODEL
LSA JUNIOR
Nader did not cost
Gore the election
TO THE DAILY:

While this may have been true in Florida and
Oregon in a technical sense, it was absolutely
false in terms of the real reasons why many
Naders voted as they did: They agreed with
him on the issues. A vote for Nader was a vote
affirming a belief in a stronger sense of govern-
ment's role in promoting social justice. The
New Democrats, boasting of achievements
such as welfare reform, have turned their backs
on social issues that, believe it or not, are still
important to many people. Many Nader voters
wanted to send a message to the Democratic
party that they should not trade in concern for
the poor in favor of political expediency. The
Democrats were not "entitled" to Nader votes.
They had to earn them and instead of working
for these votes, they tried to scare and intimi-
date voters to their side.
The character attacks were even more
despicable. I found the "Appeal to Conscience"
ad published in the Daily on Election Day
appalling. First, Nader was the only person in
this campaign who can honestly claim that
thousands of people are alive today because of
his personal efforts in the-area of consumer
protection. Second, he was the most honest
candidate in the race - brutally honest. He did
not pander the way both major party candidates
did. Third, to claim that he is not a supporter of
women's rights is ludicrous. One of the
strongest attacks on women and children came
in fact from the Clinton-Gore administration in
their championing of welfare reform proposals
tell the poorest women that they are not worth
helping beyond an arbitrary time limit of five
years. Nader has consistently advocated sup-
porting the least advantaged members of soci-
ety. Finally, Nader did not have a villainous
personal vendetta against Gore. He wanted to
bring important social issues back into the pub-
lic debate.
Unfortunately, he was ignored, attacked and
ridiculed to the Democrats' peril. This negative
approach was extremely poor strategy on the
part of the Gore campaign. Their unwilling-
ness to enteriain Nader's ideas on a policy level
that would have interested Nader voters only
attests to the defensiveness of the current
Democratic party. Unless it becomes more
inclusive of the range of ideas represented by
voters from the center to the left instead of try-
ing to force everyone to buy into their on-size-
fits-all-strategy, the Democrats will continue to
fail by hubris. Working to encompass a range
of ideas has worked spectacularly for the
Republicans under Bush - Gore and the
Democrats should swallow this bitter pill.
CALI MORTENSON
SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY

Scott Week allowed
Christians to share
their ideas about God
TO THE DAILY:
I agree with Scott. I think Scott Week
was a great idea. I don't think David Levy
("'Scott' campaign tactics are disturbing,"
11/10/00) understands the idea behind
Scott Week. The campus was "flooded"
with flyers to get people's attention.
After a week of seeing "Do you agree
with Scott?" all over campus, I, like many
others - including David Levy -- was
curious. I took the initiative to find out
more about Scott. No one was "tricked"
into learning about Scott. Levy was curi-
ous, so he asked. If he didn't want to be
exposed to views that are different than the
ones he came here with, he shouldn't have
come to a school as diverse as the Univer-
sity.
I am a Christian. I believe that the only
way to get to Heaven is through faith in
Jesus Christ. One of the fundamental ten-
ants of Christianity is sharing the message
of Jesus and how to have a personal rela-
tionship with God.
How are people to learn if there is no
one to teach them? If Levy is convinced
that he knows the best way to get to Heav-
en, why doesn't he want to share that mes-
sage?
Religion is intensely personal. No one
should be coerced into agreeing with
something they believe is fundamentally
wrong. But that isn't what Scott Week is
about. It is about sharing the Gospel of
Jesus with those who are curious enough
to ask. It is letting others know what we as
Christians believe, and then letting them
decide for themselves whether they agree
or not.
Scott's "following" on campus is no
different than the group of students who
supported Vice-President Gore for Presi-
dent. They too "vandalized" campus with
signs and stopped people on the Diag to
spread Gore's campaign message. Count-
less other groups have done the same.
Make a personal choice about religion,
but if you don't have all the information,
how can you be confident about your
choice.

6

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JENNIFER RUSSELL
ENGINEERING SOPHOMORE

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