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November 17, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-11-17

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4 -The Michigan Daily -Thursday, November 17, 2000

&be £id}igutt aily

Fair? Fair? Who's the Nihilist Here?

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

MIKE SPAHN
Editor in Chief
EMILY ACHENBAUM
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.

Cleaner bus

U' should pursue pollution reduction

n the last few days, a few friends of mine
have asked what my column was going to
be about, and I've told them that I was
probably going to address the current elec-
tion crisis. That topic was about as popular
as a rug burn, but I'm confidently forging
ahead. My friends'
consternation is
unfortunately, I fear,
typical of the way
most Americans feel.
It would be great
trouble if this Consti-
tutional process were
rushed in the same
manner as the nation-
al media has tried to
rush through every-
thing else. EveryoneD
needs to relax, be David
patient and let our Horn
great Democratic -
process exorcise the
mistakes that the
good people of West Palm Beach County,
Florida, have made.
Should those dopes in West Palm be per-
mitted to revote? Absolutely not. Come on,
now. Florida state law says that the mark for
the candidate must be to the right of the
candidate's name, and this was not the case
on the ballots in West Palm County. But the
law in Florida - and everywhere else -
states that if there are concerns from the
voters regarding the ballot, they are to be
addressed before the election, not after-
wards. The ballot was available for every-
one to see, and no opposition was voiced.
There is a reason that the law is structured
in this manner - we can't declare electoral
hijinks post-election, forcing the nation into
an unfair and misguided circus of recounts
and legal technicalities.

I want nothing more than for Al Gore to
be President. But that's not going to happen.
It's a tough pill to swallow, really, because
as much respect as I have for the electoral
system, it's hard to shake the fact that
200,000 more people in this country wanted
him to be president than the other guy. Cap-
tain W. Everyone should be able to accept
the irrelevance of the popular vote, though.
The one bit of election knowledge our sixth
grade social studies teachers try to force
upon us is that winning the popular vote
isn't worth a Confederate nickel. But the
kicker of all this is that it seems that more
Floridians - perhaps as many as 1,600 -
wanted Gore to be their next President. Is it
unfair for Gore to be deprived the votes of
those who mistakenly voted for Buchanan?
Sort of. Is it unfair for Bush to be bamboo-
zled out of this victory in the Florida state
courts and U.S. district courts? Yes. It is
excruciatingly difficult for me to admit
that? Goodness yes.
This issue of fairness goes beyond the
middle school electionesque quality that this
election has suffered from since day one.
The two political progenies just can't seem
to understand that this election isn't about
spin. As if the campaign didn't prove that
Gore and Bush are to sides of the same
coin, the two smug, cocky politicians both
attempt to spin a victory out of this mess.
The election needs to be settled expediently,.
but not at the expense of accuracy.
Speaking of accuracy, let's remind our-
selves of the nationally televised election
night fiasco. I don't think we could be any
less impressed by the national television
news media. CNN, NBC and the rest were a
disgrace to professional journalism. All the
infographics and spinning 3-D Capitols
couldn't save Tim Russert at 4 a.m. He was
spewing whatever half-ass thought popped

into his head, having counted on goi
home hours ago. The premature declaratio
(declarations, actually) of Florida wasn'
particularly impressive either. Ironically
the news outfits that restrained from givin
Florida to Gore at noon, or whatever, ended
up looking the best. Why is our country s
hell-bent on settling matters hastily? Gover
nor Bush - this issue of the presidency is
too important to pressure your opponent
into conceding the victory to you. T
country can learn a great lesson in the
Democratic process, but not if you convinc
them that they're not interested, and all the
are concerned about is the final result. Th
process is more important in this case,
think. We have a process, and we have no
choice but to trust it. This has the potential
to be one of the most inspiring and invigo
rating events in this country's recent apa
thetic electoral history. Let us sit back,
relax, and enjoy the structured pseudo
Democracy that we've created settle the d
pute. In any other country, there would be
civil war, and with each negative statemen
from the Democratic or Republican cam
we inch closer to anger and mistrust. Al
you did what you could, but the gods ar
not smiling on your goofy Tennessee back
country face this November. You must hav
made more deals with the Devil than W, i
that's possible, and as easily as you can sa
"Red Sox," the tides of history have unfa'
ly turned against you. You're the Fra
Grimes to W.'s Homer, and the only way
for you to truly take solace when this whole
charade is over is to behave as the gentle
man that you claim to be, hope that some-
how our legal and electoral system find yo
to be the winner, and realize that, win o
lose, not everything always comes up "Al."
- David Horn can be reached via e-mai
at hornd@umich.edu.

C hoosing which new buses to pur-
chase shouldn't be a difficult
decision. Cities as diverse as Los
Angeles, Atlanta, Syracuse and San
Diego have all committed to replacing
their existing diesel fleets with natural
gas buses. Yet the University contin-
ues to haggle, indecisive over whether
to follow their lead or invest in yet
more dirty diesel technology. We
believe they should make the clear
choice, the clean choice and opt for

natural gas.
For the first time
in years, the Univer-
sity is in the process
of replacing its
entire fleet of almost
40 buses. The few
that they've ordered
so far have unfortu-
nately all been
diesel. Diesel_

Switchingi
gas buses,
our environi
from pollut
our climate
greenhouse

Air Quality Management District, for
example, calculated the cancer risk
due to diesel particulates as a whop-
ping 71 percent of the total cancer
risk in the greater Los Angeles area.
As if this weren't enough to conclude
that diesel engines are a hopelessly
dirty technology, the EPA links their
exhaust to disproportionate emissions
of greenhouse gasses, heavy particu-
late matter and ozone-forming com-
pounds.
Fortunately, an
to natural alternative exists.
proteCtS Natural gas buses
have been on the mar-
iment ket for more than a
decade and they now
Ion and account for more than
1 in 5 new bus orders.
The U.S. Department
gases. of Energy says that
their rates of pollution
are so low that when they displace a
regular diesel bus the equivalent of 33
passenger cars have been removed
from our freeways. And although
there are start-up costs associated
with switching to natural gas, these
are offset by lower fuel costs and the
reduced maintenance of using a high-
er-octane fuel.
Switching to natural gas buses pro-
tects our environment from pollution,
our climate from greenhouse gases
and our bodies from debilitating dis-
eases. There is only one clear choice.
We urge the University to replace the
rest of its fleet with cleaner, safer,
saner natural gas buses.

exhaust is a virtual encyclopedia of
the most toxic compounds on the
planet.
According to the state of Califor-
nia, of the 188 air pollutants the Envi-
ronmental Protection Agency has
designated as toxic at least 41 are pre-
sent in diesel exhaust. The effects of
these toxins on the human body can
be gruesome, ranging from blood dis-
orders to reproductive problems to
immune system failure. And at least
half the listed air toxins are known or
suspected carcinogens. Just how many
people are mauled by these contami-
nants every year isn't certain, but
there are indications. The South Coast

HLet us vote
Hurdles to student voting unfair

_ With the still-unresolved presi-
dential election threatening to
continue for several more days or
weeks, a great deal of attention has
been paid to all aspects of the voting
process. While the national election is
certainly foremost in the public con-
sciousness, some of the state elections
have also cast an unflattering light on
what happens at the polls. Last week,
state Sen. Mike Rogers (R-Brighton)
-: was elected to fill the open congres-
sional seat of Rep. Debbie Stabenow,
who is moving on to the U.S. Senate.
However, Rogers' election may have
been made possible by a bill he him-
self sponsored - a bill which makes
voting unnecessarily difficult for stu-
dents.
This law, which went into effect
last April, requires citizens to register
to vote at the same address given on
their driver's license. Although the
official rationale behind this law is
the prevention of voter fraud, the law
primarily affects students, who now
have to either change their driver's
license or vote in their hometown. It

also fails to take into account the
unique situation of college students,
who move frequently and should not
have to register a temporary address
as a permanent one in order to have a
voice in government.
As a significant portion of stu-
dents are first-time voters who are
prohibited from voting by absentee
ballot and it is not always possible for
them to go home to vote, so many
simply do not bother. And because
Rogers' district includes the Democ-
ratic-leaning Michigan State Univer-
sity campus, a lower student turnout
is advantageous to him in particular
and to conservative candidates in gen-
eral.
Low voter turnout is a persistent
problem - when the numbers
approach 50 percent of the popula-
tion, it's called a high turnout. And
young people are particularly likely to
stay away from the polls. Students
should be encouraged to exercise one
of their most important rights, not
faced with unfair obstacles such as
Rogers' law.

Socioeconomics, not
race, should be focus
of admissions policy
TO THE DAILY:
The Daily's editorial regarding affirma-
tive action on Nov. 16 ("Diversity under
attack") states: "The admissions policies of
the University as they currently exist may
not be perfect, but they are as fair and
effective as anyone knows how to .make
them and are vastly preferable to many
other systems."
I beg to differ.
Each of the arguments advanced in the
editorial in defense of affirmative action
policies centers on socioeconomic factors,
rather than race. To assume that all minori-
ties are socioeconomically disadvantaged is
a misnomer, to say the least. If we are truly
committed to equality in this country, we
should focus our progressive efforts on
addressing the overarching socioeconomic
factors involved, not just the racial factors.
Affirmative action should be retooled
and redefined as a program focused on
addressing the original reasons such poli-
cies were enacted: To address the genera-
tion-to-generation persistence of poverty
and class divisions. This is the real issue,
and your editorial agrees when you state
that "The richest kids get the best schools
and the most opportunities and the poorest
kids get the poorest schools and are shut
out of almost every educational opportunity
available."
I couldn't make the point any better
myself. The problem isn't the divide
between black and white, it's the divide
between rich and poor. That's not to say
that racism is not a problem. It still is. But
we can't solve that problem by emphasiz-
ing our differences or creating policies that
benefit only one group of poor people.
Change affirmative action to include all
people who have real socioeconomic disad-
vantages and you've created a policy that is
both fair and effective, a policy that levels
the playing field for those people who have
historically been "shut out of almost every
educational opportunity available." In
short, it is vastly preferable to help all peo-
ple who are socioeconomically disadvan-
taged, rather than to leave behind the poor
people of majority and over-represented
minority groups.
Our mutual desire for a just and inclu-
sive society demands no less.

l
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'Republicans pick bad judges because they're
incompetent. Democrats pick bad judges deliberately.'
- University of Texas Law Professor Lino Graglia on the makeup
of the Supreme Court.
out for a while. Take five." But the workers better method in closing the academic g
aren't to blame. This campus is a ghost between under-represented minorities and
town during the summer. Why couldn't this their academic peers.
project have been started then? It is sad to Yesterday's editorial "Diversity under
imagine those fences up in the Diag for the attack," stresses the importance of diversity,
next three years. Trudging everyday but the arguments that should strengthen the
through the mud field that used to be thick stance of affirmative action supporters only
green shaded grass and into an overcrowd- work to point out the weaknesses of the cur-
ed (due to construction renovations) Alca- rent system. Yes, the University takes into
traz Hall. It would seem there could have account the reputation of an applicant's
been alternative time schedules for this high school and the strength of the curricu-
massive renovation, now not being that lum and the editorial singled this out. Hog
time. ever, affirmative action is unfair in
assuming that all minorities come from
JOHN LAMB underprivileged school districts and there-
LSA JUNIOR fore deserve extra points to make up for the
inconsistencies in public education. If lows
economic status is such a disadvantage to
Hockey games also potential college students, then why isn't
there another scale of judgment that gives
shown on W OLV extra points in college admissions to stu-
dents who come from families in financj
need?
TO THE DAILY: I know plenty of minority students who
In Wednesday's sports section it was come from school districts with much more
mentioned that a select number of Michigan affluence then the school system I attended,
Hockey games would be televised by Fox and yet they receive the same kind-of
Sports Detroit, as if it were the only oppor- "help" that minorities from less affluent
tunity to see them play on television ("M schools receive.
hockey to be televised nine times"). Helping students from lower econom'ic
Actually, WOLV, the student-run televi- classes gain admission to institutions of
sion station on campus, has broadcast 85 higher learning will help raise people out of
percent of Michigan Hockey home games on their lower socioeconomic class since "the
TV for the past 3 years. Students in the resi- poorest kids get the poorest schools and
dence halls can turn to channel 52 on shut out of almost every educational oppr
UMTV and off-campus students can turn to tunity available." What about the poor Cau-
channel 22 on MediaOne. WOLV's broad- casian, Asian, Indian or any other person
casts can also be seen on the web at who is discriminated against based on
www.mgoblue.com (there is a link to the wealth? There are plenty of people who live
webcast on the hockey homepage). And in poverty that are not minorities and yet
check out the schedule on the hockey page these same people receive no compensation
to see which games WOLV will be covering for their high school's poor content of cur-
in the future. WOLV will be-broadcasting riculum.
both games this weekend, so tune in and Go This type of economic action would still
Blue! boost minority enrollment, as the editor
MICHAEL SALMONOWICZ also points out that "most minority appcft
GENERAL MANAGER, WOLV Am I against affirmative action? Yes, I am.
LSA SENIOR Does this make me a bigot or racist? No it
doesn't. Is diversity a positive and indispen-
sible factor in this University? You bet it is.
Diversity possible Until a better policy is provided, affirmative
action may be the best remedy for these
without race-based described inequalities amongst racial
groups.
affirmative action In the long run however, affirmative
action needs to be amended so that it
longer discriminates but rather empowers
TO THE DAILY: those who really need the help.

BY JASON POLAN 'M."
s1 f ri m, OA *
ToAl'S
r4 -r .~
S 7E
f AIFr

1
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Affirmative action remains a vital ingre-
dient in making the University of Michigan
a great school and yet I wonder if there is a

PETER BALDWIN
ALUMNUS rDANE BARNES

STEVE WARNICK
LSA SOPHOMORE
DiSTURBED SLEEP

a

- -

Winter renovations
are often disruptive
to students
TO THE DAILY:

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