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November 20, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-11-20

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4A -- The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 20, 2000

rE £iduigau ilyg

Lawsuits, dirty looks and imagined crises

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily. letters@umich.edu

Editor in Chief

Edited and managed by EMILY ACENBAUM
students at the Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan
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.

Fair working conditions are needed

'm getting a little sick of people saying that
we don't have a president. I've got news for
you, and no, it's not some breaking bit of info
that I just saw on CNN.
We've got a president. His name is Bill Clin-
ton. I think you've heard of him. His term
doesn't end for a few
more months.h
Take a deep breath;
maybe even turn CNN
off for a minute. And
remember that it
doesn't matter that we
don't know who the
next president will be
right now. I know there
are unanswered ques-
tions out there, but do Mike
they really matter. What
are you really missing Spahn
by shortening this tran-for
sition period?'
Are you biting yourR'
nails waiting to hear
who the next Secretary of the Interior will be?
Are you up late at night worrying about
which balls the new president will attend on
Inauguration Day?
I didn't think so. Yet this is all you're miss-
ing while the votes in Florida are recounted -
again - and the candidates bog down the
courts with lawsuit after lawsuit. I'm sensitive
to the fact that planning an administrative
takeover, especially if the change over could be
hostile, is not the easiest thing in the world.
Whoever wins this election needs to have the
time to build their staff and plan out the details
that will make the White House run.
But that's why the Inauguration isn't until
January. Well, actually that's a lie. The
Founders were concerned about traveling in
winter and therefore set the inauguration for

March. That was later moved up to January, but
this is all a little beside the point. The point is
that for whatever reason, a choice made by the
Founders has once again benefited the future of
our democracy, even it was done unknowingly.
And while sensitivity to the importance of a
transition is important, I'm far more sensitive to
the rule of law, the will of the people and the
sanctity of our electoral process. That's why we
must let the process in Florida run its course.
Many people are attacking Al Gore for ask-
ing for recounts. And perhaps, in the long term,
they're right to say that politically he should
have stepped aside and run in four years. But
the laws in Florida are clear. Recounts are legal.
A provision to allow hand recounts is written
into the Florida election process. If hand
recounts are so bad, why didn't the state legisla-
ture and Jeb Bush get together to get rid of
them? More importantly, why did George W.
Bush sign a bill into law within the past year to
allow for hand recounts in Texas?
And George, why are you harping on the fact
that you've won-each count and therefore we
should stop? Doesn't it strike anyone else as
odd, and indeed concerning, that while Bush is
right in declaring his victory in each count, the
margin in those victories changed each time?
Originally, the margin was 1,700 votes, then
300. Now, with absentees, it's 900. Shouldn't
we count the ballots until we can be sure what
the total is, it's only the most important office in
the land that's on the line here.
Bush says Florida should stop recounting by
hand because there's too much room for mis-
chief. Well, if that's the case, then why did he
sign a law allowing for the same process in
Texas? It seems there are some sweaty palms in
Austin and they're hoping brother Jeb and Sec-
retary of State Katherine Harris can steal this
thing away for W. before anyone realizes what
Meanwhile, Al and his legal team have filed

lawsuit after lawsuit despite what seems to be
pretty hard evidence that he lost. And he could
have been the knight in shining armor, the man
who stayed above political squabbling, if he had
bowed out early. But, alas, he decided to stay
and fight and that brings us to yet another Flori-
da Supreme Court hearing today.
So with that said, I'm going to address a few
people in particular, knowing full well.that
they're not reading this:
To George W.: If you really believe you won
the vote, let them recount it and certify it. Put
your transition team in place (all you have to do
is call Dick, Colin and the rest of your dad's
cronies) and get ready to take over. You proba-
bly won, don't get cranky about it. Act like
you've been there.
To Al: If you lose, concede already. Don't be,
a crybaby about this. Just take the votes as they
are and move on. If you just would have worn
your home state you wouldn't be going through
this anyway, so stop whining. I know you've
been planning this ever since you cried to your
daddy, "But I want White House underoos, not
Batman!" But to you I say the same thing I said
to GWB: Act like you've been there.
And to both of you, your campaigns, your
lawyers and your surrogates in sunny Florida:
Stop the press conferences. The accusations.
The dirty looks. Sit down and figure this out,
not through dueling press releases and harassing
press statements.
More than 200 years ago we decided to put
our faith in the law. Our democracy is not run
on the whim of any man, organization or politi-
cal party, at least in its purest form. We stand on
the brink of a chance to return to that purity, if
we can just let this process happen.
But everyone out there needs to take a deep
breath. We've waited this long, I think we can
wait a few more days.
- Mike Spahn can be reached
via e-mail at mspahn@umich.edu.

P erforming a laundry service for the
University is a difficult job. For
tedious work, workers receive little
appreciation or money. However, Van
Dyne Crotty, Inc., a Toledo, Ohio based
company that performs laundering ser-
vices for the University Hospitals and
dining halls, has shown itself to be an
especially poor place to work. If Van
Dyne Crotty has its say, workers won't be
able to collectively bargain with the com-
pany. The University cannot allow its
associated workers to be treated in this
fashion. After reviewing the recent histo-
ry of the company, the University should
join with Students Organizing for Labor
and Economic Equality and insist that the
Van Dyne Crotty recognize the workers
union or risk termination of its contract
with the University.
It is easy to ignore the plight of these
workers. They are in another state and are
making more than the minimum wage.
However, utilizing workers who make
well below a living wage gives the Uni-
versity a black eye. University officials
and students should be ashamed of the
workers' situation.
Even worse, Van Dyne Crotty has
violated its employees' rights. Since June
1997, The National Labor Relations
Board has officially recognized the right
of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial

and Textile Employees as the official
union of the company. But according to
NLRB documents, the company has
refused since April to bargain with
UNITE. Along with their refusal to bar-
gain in good faith, Van Dyne Crotty
hasn't had a contract with its employees
since June 2000.
The University has little moral choice
but to step in and insist on fair labor con-
ditions. Like the Toledo School Board,
which has also terminated its contract
with Van Dyne Crotty, the University
should demonstrate its determination to
accept services only with companies
meeting accepted labor laws. The
employees are doing all of the manual
labor, therefore they should be allowed to
bargain collectively and have quality
working conditions. If Van Dyne Crotty
won't fulfill their legal obligations, the
University should no longer deal with
this company. That would send the need-
ed message.
The University is widely recognized
as a leader among educational institu-
tions. By setting a firm example in labor
and human rights issues, other universi-
ties will follow. The most effective way
to show the University cares about work-
ers' rights is for the University to follow
SOLE's advice and force Van Dyne Crot-
ty, Inc. to deal with UNITE in good faith.

'They promised good service. They advertised quality.'
- William Stern, lawyer and father of one of the plaintiffs in the
lawsuit against Sprint P CS for poor service in Ann Arbor

Boy Scouts not entitled to school access

omewhere in America, an elementary
school gym is packed with Boy
Scouts and their families. Perhaps they
are gathered for the annual potluck dinner
and are already forming eager lines next
to the paper plates and plastic silverware.
Or maybe it is time for this year's highly
anticipated Pinewood Derby and the boys
are anxiously comparing cars, wondering
who will take home the
trophy. Whatever the If t u
event, the atmosphere is ourt f
charged with youthful
enthusiasm. The scout- stop t I
masters look on with
pride. Parents glow. Cam- Scouts fr4
eras flash. All are smil- - -
ing, but there is pfacticing
something terribly wrong intoleranc
with this picture.
Behind all the merit responsib
badges, the patriotism
and the good deeds (e.g. 0
helping old ladies across
the street), the Boy Scouts of America
buried an unpleasant truth for many years.
Over the course of the past decade, it has
come to light that the BSA will not toler-
ate homosexuality. It all began in New
Jersey in 1990, when James Dale was
expelled from his position as an Eagle
Scout assistant scoutmaster because he
was gay. In 1992, Dale sued the BSA for
discrimination. In 1999, the New Jersey
Supreme Court ruled in his favor, order-
ing the BSA to reinstate him. After their
subsequent appeal, the BSA emerged vic-
torious last June, when the U.S. Supreme
Court reversed the decision on the
grounds that forcing the BSA to allow
gay scoutmasters would mean forcing
them to endorse "homosexual conduct as
a legitimate form of behavior." Though
the ruling did not specifically mention the
right to exclude gay boys, it left room for
such an interpretation. In short. the BSA
was deemed a private organization that
could do with its money as it saw fit.
This ruling not-withstanding, there has
been an outpouring of opposition to the
BSA's anti-gay policy. For example, many

largest annual donors to the BSA, have
dramatically cut funding in light of their
prejudiced practices. In addition, last
week, the Plymouth-Canton teachers'
union signed a resolution asking the local
Board of Education to prohibit the Boy
Scouts from meeting or recruiting on
school property if they continue to
exclude gays from their ranks.
Area BSA leaders

ss t

have called the legality
of such a measure into
question, citing the
Equal Access Act
passed by Congress.
The Act states that all
student-led, extra-cur-
ricular organizations
that meet in a given dis-
trict must be given
equal access to facili-
ties. The Boy Scouts,
however, are a national

Natural gas not as
beneficial as it seems
I would like to respond to the editorial
that appeared in the Nov. 17th issue of the
Daily, ("Cleaner Buses, U' should pursue
pollution reduction"). First of all I go on
record as being pro clean air. In so doing
we need to explore the use of non-fossil
Natural gas as everyone knows is a fos-
sil type fuel; thus you have pollution when
it is utilized for fuel. While it is true that
our new buses are still equipped with
diesel engines, I believe that these will
operate more efficiently than what we are
now using. Without having exact figures
on hand, the start up cost of utilizing nat-
ural gas as a fuel source for the buses is
more than $1,000,000. Yes that's a lot of
Natural gas as a fuel source may be
somewhat cleaner but who is going to pay
for this investment into the concept of
cleaner air? You are! I am not saying this
to imply that the University is attempting
to be frivolous with your money, they are
not. This fuel source has been debated; the
start up cost is somewhat prohibitive. This
is largely due to the location and safety
regulations involved with this type of fuel
When natural gas is stored as a fuel
source, a separate fuel facility must be
constructed away from other fuel sources,
as well as vehicle and work site facilities.
Transportation is at best "crowded" as it is
with the storage of 40 buses and the Uni-
versity motor pool. Additionally, trans-
portation services houses the repair and
maintenance facilities for all University
vehicles; unfortunately, the space just is
not available for such a facility.
If this amount of money was available,
and if we are to spend this additional
money on the buses, would not improving
present campus bus service be a better uti-
lization of this money'?
Genetically modified
food labeling is of
importance to all
I want to thank the Daily for Rob
Goodspeed's viewpoint "Genetically Mod-
ified Foods Should Be Labeled"
(11/16/00). As a future public health work-
er, I was ashamed of my ignorance con-
cerning genetically modified (GM) foods
and their widespread entry in today's food
sources. As a consumer, however, I am
outraged that the FDA and the U.S. gov-
ernment have not chosen to address this
issue properly by thorough research before

reports and inquiries should be a loud sig-
nal to world governments that GM foods
are not the "answer to the world's
prayers," but have the potential to harm
consumers without proper research before
widespread release.
It makes me wonder what the U.S. gov-
ernment has to gain by not sharing this
information with the public. There is a
lone congressman, Rep. Dennis Kucinich
(D-Ohio), who introduced legislation to
label all GM foods, but had to withdraw it
for lack of support. I suspect his new pro-
posal to fund research on the unknown
allergens in GM products and the effects
of GM fish in the wild will meet the same
I think the food industry and the FDA
should proceed with extreme caution con-
cerning genetically modified foods. They
shouldn't mess with Mother Nature,
because she will eventually begin to fight
back. Today its just allergic reactions;
tomorrow it may be deaths.
Affirmative action is
flawed, will not
increase diversity
In the editorial "Diversity under
attack," (11/16/00) the liberal staff of the
Daily has made one more misinformed
defense of affirmative action. For the sake
of full and vigorous exchange of ideas, it's
time to set the record straight.
First of all, let's be clear what we are
talking about here. The University is not
faced with a choice of having affirmative
action or nothing at all. Instead of affirma-
tive action, the University would likely
implement the system currently in use in
California and the flagship universities in
Florida and Texas. This system stresses the
educational background of the applicants,
especially focusing on the amount of diffi-
culty that he has overcome to achieve his
grades and other achievements. On this
point, the Daily has misconstrued the top
ten percent system in Texas. Under the top
ten percent system, any student who's in
the top ten percent of his or her class is
guaranteed a spot in the University of
Texas University system, not at the flag-
ship campus in Austin. This system does
not hurt qualified applicants because a dog

of average intelligence probably can get
into a school like the University of Texas
in the middle of nowhere.
Now, let me turn my attention to the
two other major points the Daily editorial
made. First, the Daily claims that diversity
is injured once affirmative action is abol-
ished. However, as the Daily itself recog-
nizes, what is valuable about diversity ias
not the color of the students' skin, but
rather the diverse range of ideas and back-
grounds they bring to the vigorous acade-
mic environment of the University. Under@
a race neutral plan, the University is
removed from the pressure of admitting a
certain percentage of under-represented
minorities, but instead can look at the
applicants' files to evaluate what contribu-
tions they can make to the diverse ideas in
a University. Following the abolishment of
affirmative action, the University will be
more, rather than less, diverse.
Second, the Daily claims the white
applicants to the University are not really
hurt by affirmative action because race is
only one of multiple factors. However,
under the admissions policy, race is con-
sidered as important as the standardized
test score or high school grade point aver-
age. In other words, a minority student of
substantially less qualifications may get in -
before a white student because of affirma-
tive action. Under the law school admis-
sions policy, a minority student can
overcome a deficit of 0.3 on his college
GPA and at least 5-6 points on the LSAT
simply because of the color of his skin.
The Daily also claims factors such as
GPA and SAT score inherently favor rich
white kids. However, the Daily's claim is:,
fundamentally underinclusive because
there are black applicants to college who
attended Andover High School in Bloom-
field Hillseand live in million-dollar
homes, while there are also white kids who;0
came from West Virginia and suffer from
every disadvantage imaginable.
Moving away from a paradigm of race
allows the admissions committee to look at
the total picture and evaluate an appli-
cant's potential for future success. This
system also helps the poor black kid by
distinguishing him from the rich black kid
from Andover and give him more of a
preference in the admissions process.
It's time for the University to face the
music and design an admissions system
that's fair to all.

ce, the
ilty shifts

organization run by
adults, not students, so it cannot be classi-
fied the same way as other student clubs.
It has always been and should continue to
be up to the schools to decide which out-
side groups can use their property. And
the BSA built its anti-gay case on being a
private organization that didn't have to
live up to 'the standards of public groups.
Public schools are under no obligation to
accommodate private groups that refuse
to live up to the public standards of non-
The Plymouth-Canton teachers should
be applauded for their courage in taking
on an organization with as long a history
and as much support as the BSA. If the
Supreme Court refuses to stop the BSA
from practicing intolerance, the responsi-
bility shifts to private citizens. By denying
gays membership, the BSA teaches its
scouts that it is okay to discriminate on
the basis of sexual orientation. Where will
it end? Wouldn't our government speak
up if a specific racial group were being
cast out in this manner? This kind of bla-
tant discrimination is unacceptable. The
Plymouth-Canton teachers aren't standing

- . ",".

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