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March 12, 2001 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-12

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 12, 2001

~e aIirbipun Daill

daily. ktters @umich.edu

Are we Harvard? Michigan's identity crisis


SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority ofthe
Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily

hat if, what if:
What if Uni-
versity Presi-
dent Lee Bollinger's
name had been in the
Harvard presidential
search committee's enve-
lope? Crimson-blooded
economist Lawrence H.
Summers' name was
announced as Harvard's next president yes-
terday, culminating weeks of a three-man
fraternity rush where campus has waited to
see if Harvard would pick Bollinger - and
if he would pick them back. After all, can
you turn down the presidency of Harvard?
Nobody would want Bollinger to leave
the University, but there's a tiny part of us
that wanted him to get picked because he's a
winner, a leader and the best, and we at
Michigan not only like winning but demand
it. Bollinger's courting by Harvard has
resulted in coffee-group and study-group
therapy as campus tries to solve its sudden
identity crisis:
Is Michigan Harvard, or at least Har-
Now Mom always told us to just be our-
selves and not draw comparisons to the pret-
ty, popular girl with new Guess? jeans, but a
little narcissistic analysis is always fun (and
inevitable). And so some people are puffing
out their chests, pointing to the business and

medical schools, chanting "Harvard: the
Michigan of the East." Others register on
the opposite end of the self-esteem scale,
wondering what we could do to be a better
school - the kind where when choosing
between Harvard and Michigan, turning
down Michigan's presidency would be
debatably nuts.
Why be so obsessed with becoming -
or proving we already are - Harvard?
Yes, competition breeds excellence, but I
find the hang-up to be completely pathetic.
It's simple: Money creates opportunity
and develops prestige and we're a public
school that will never have the endowment
of a top private school, let alone that of Har-
vard's, the nation's richest school. Because
we rely on state funding, roughly three-
quarters of the University's students have to
come from Michigan. And as bright as the
top students from the state may be, there's
no comparison to being able to draw entire-
ly from an international pool. We are not,
and cannot, be Harvard. And then it gets
more complicated: Defining "best." So we
might not be the "best," but let's not forget
that the "best" education is found at the
school where the student is most enlight-
ened and challenged. That might be at Har-
vard, that might be at Michigan, it might be
at Oberlin or Swarthmore or Washtenaw
Community College.
Even if Michigan is not the "best," it is

clear that our president is. The Bollinger-fan
smarm disclaimer: I'm not looking for a law
school recommendation, I have never taken
his class and I serve on zero committees (a
certain search committee included). I'm a
big Bollinger supporter because he deserves
admiration for being the president he is now
and the legacy he will leave, be it next year
or a decade from now. There's a small but
reasonably vocal minority that dislikes
Bollinger, mainly because their opinion nar-
row-mindedly rests on his handling of the
Nike deal - perhaps forgetting that chang-
ing international labor laws, although noble,
is not the primary role of a college presi-
We are a great public school. Emphasis
on public.
Harvard is a great private school. Great
for Harvard.
We have a fantastic president (next
year's pay increase will be significant,
hmmm?) who could have been offered a
position more prestigious than the presiden-
cy of the University. Ouch? Let's get over
it. I hope Bollinger wouldn't have stayed
just to make us feel better about ourselves.
Michigan is Michigan, not Harvard. And
there's nothing wrong with that.

Emily Achenbaum's column runs every other
Monday. Give her feedback at
via e-mail at emiylsa@umich.edu.


'I think it came down to the fact that Harvard
couldn't pull the trigger on a candidate who
didn't have a Harvard degree.'
- Regent Dan Horning (R-Grand Haven) on the announcement that University
President Lee Bollinger will not be Harvard University's next president.

Election Board foolish,
motivated by politics;
let DAAP back in race
I think that it is atrocious that candidates for
the Michigan Student Assembly can be thrown
off the ballot for missing a meeting. I have
been to a dozen of those election meetings and
they are all the same. Every year the Residence
Hall Association comes and complains about
how candidates violate housing policy. These
four year dorm residents/wannabe MSA reps
whine about how students are annoyed and
how posters are a waste. Big deal!
I don't like the Defend Affirmative Action
Party, but if their candidates are not allowed
back on to the ballot a serious injustice has
been done. For years now the MSA Election
Board has been composed of partisan know-
nothings who get off on writing arbitrary poli-
cy - usually designed to help their friends get
elected. It is time to reign in the Election
Board and come up with a comprehensive
election policy - supported by the students.
For all the bitching MSA does in regards to
the evil Code of Student Conduct, you would
think they would create an election code that
is not based on the same principles - control,
censorship and Big Brotherly love. God help
me ... let DAAP run.
LSA senior
The letter writer ran for the Michigan
Student Assembly p residency under the
Wolverine Party last year. Diamondalong with
other members of his party were tossed out
of last year's election by MSA s Election Board.
DAAP didn't respect
the rules, 'must sit
this round out'
For a long time now I have listened to the
political ramblings of the Defend Affirmative
Action Party and its members here at the Uni-



versity. In all honesty, I am very tired of the
incessant political opportunism taken by some
of the members of this party in its attempts to
gain seats on the Michigan Student Assembly.
Affirmative Action is indeed a serious issue
here at the University and DAAP's continued
use of this issue to put a spotlight on the key
members of their party is irresponsible and
extremely inappropriate.
Last Tuesday a mandatory candidates
meeting was called which several DAAP can-
didates did not attend. It was a simple request.
The failure of these candidates not to inform
the necessary officials in the necessary time
frame shows a lack of responsibility on the part
of those candidates. This lack of responsibility
for the rules established by the election board
should show all of us that DAAP is unworthy
of being a dominant party on MSA. Yes
indeed, this is a democracy, but a key aspect of
that democracy is that everyone must follow
the rules. This is not an anarchy where rules
can be disregarded or made on a whim.
DAAP did not respect those rules and should

not be given a second chance by the Central
Student Judiciary. I am sorry, but for those that@
chose not to attend, you must sit this round out.
In the meantime I am sure that DAAP will
continue to shout "racism" at everyone who
stands in its way. It's time to stop such foolish
rhetoric that is being used for political gains. If
DAAP truly cares about what it says it stands
for then they should constructively address
problems at this school instead of incessantly
tying up MSA meetings with an issue that
they know well and good they cannot do any-
thing about in a small student assembly. I
encourage them to continue to promote public
awareness of the trials, but keep the racial pol-
itics out of MSA and let MSA deal with solv-
able and realistically addressable issues that
affect students on a daily basis. The election
of our student officials should be taken more
seriously and the first step to achieving that
goal is to not listen to the political oppor-
tunism of DAAP.
LSA first-year student 0

Between stone relics and 20 years of suffering

Two weeks ago, Afghanistan's Taliban
government announced it was destroying
numerous ancient Bhuddist statues carved into
cliffs in the region's central Bamiyan province.
As expected, the "international community"
lashed out in harsh condemnation, describing
the action as "a tragedy for the Afghan people
and for the world." The United Nations
warned the Taliban's actions would cause
"international outrage." One headline read,
"Worldwide horror as Afghan Taliban begin
smashing ancient statues".
While the Taliban's decision to destroy
statues that had- until now been preserved
through 1,200 years of strong Islamic influ-
ence in the region is indeed an issue of con-
cern, what should strike any observer is the
blatant hypocrisy of the "international commu-
nity" with regard to Afghanistan. Because of
an "international community" that is more
concerned for statues than human life and 20
years of suffering, Afghanistan must endure
even more suffering at the hands of the same

disease or starvation. Pakistan has declared it
will no longer accept Afghan refugees, over 1
million of whom are expected to die of famine.
Those who have been so vocal about the statue
destruction remain silent over these effects of
the war and sanctions. There has been no
"worldwide horror" over the loss of innocent
Instead, lies and exaggerations regarding
the condition of women dominate much of the
Western media's coverage of Afghanistan.
Many of the stories being circulated tell of
women being stoned in the street, locked up in
homes with painted windows, forbidden from
seeking employment or education, and forced
to veil from head to toe. Interestingly enough,
however, journalists and activists who return
from fact-finding trips to Afghanistan tell a
different story. Freelance reporter Cindy Law
notes that contrary to reports in the Western
media, schools for girls do exist in Afghanistan
in mosques and in private homes, and that
numerous women are employed in health care
and education. Dr. Raza Khan, a Canadian
physician who managed a clinic in
Afghanistan reports that many women walk

ing to remove their Islamic headscarves. In
another example of hypocrisy, the strongest
condemnation of the statue destruction was
voiced by India, whose ruling BJP party was
responsible for the destruction of the Babri
Mosque in Ayodhya, India nine years ago (at
the time, the Indian government described the
matter as an "internal affair" and insisted that
no one had the right to interfere). However,
since the status quo in Turkey, Tunisia, France,
or India does not threaten United States inter-
ests, there has been no "international outcry"
as there has been with Afghanistan.
For a decade, the Afghans bravely fought
off invasion by the Soviet Union and, at that
time, were hailed as "freedom fighters" by the
United States. It was during this period that the
United States. gave the Soviet Union the green
light to invade Afghanistan, then trained and 0
financed various Afghan factions to fight a
guerrilla war against the "Evil Empire." After
the Soviets withdrew, the U.S., along with
Russia, India, China and Iran prolonged the
conflict by continuing to support the different
factions as they fought each other for control
during the subsequent civil war. Now that the

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