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March 29, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-29

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 29, 2001

(Itefrt gr Dail


Friends, Romans, countrymen: I was snubbed

SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

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

adies and gentle-
men, on the morn-
ing of Saturday,
April 28, thousands of the
University's seniors will
file into Michigan Stadi-
um to be recognized for
the completion of their
college careers. They'll
walk before their friends
and families in a proud showing of accom-
plishment, and the memories of the moment
will be grand.
But the sad truth is, on this graduation day,
something will be terribly amiss. The ceremony
will be marred by an oversight so grievous that
it will cast a dark shadow on what should other-
wise be a glorious day.
You see, dear friends, this commencement
program will feature a student speaker, and that
speaker, tragically, is not me.
(Cue the pipe organ's descending "Dunh
dunh duhhhh...")
Several weeks ago, I turned in my applica-
tion to be the student speaker and, oh, let me
tell you: It was quite the speech. Dry yet
endearing, humorous yet relevant, witty yet
profoundly touching. Religious movements
have been inspired by less impassioned works.
And the recorded version was nothing short
of aural gold. My deep voice, polished by years
of demanding vocal training in a Venetian con-
servatory,' rang true on the Sony microcassette,
pouring forth like the purest white chocolate -
melted, of course.
Then, this past Monday (or as schoolchild-
ren of the future will call it, The Day of Right-

eous Injustice To Be Mentioned Neither Here
Nor There), I received a crushing e-mail that
caused much weeping, gnashing of teeth and
tearing of clothes. And after deleting this chain
letter, I then found out that I hadn't been picked
to give the commencement speech either.
Apparently, in a late-night meeting held
somewhere in the torch-lit catacombs beneath
the Fleming Administration Building, the mys-
terious Committee to Elect a Student Speaker
had convened around a pentagram-shaped table
and decided my cruel fate.
"We must never allow Chris Kula to share
his vaguely satirical graduation message with
the masses," they agreed. "Also, we must gain
control of the banks and the media."
However, it will take more than a shadowy
government conspiracy to silence me. Whereas
my fellow rejected speechwriters can do noth-
ing but mask their disappointment and pursue
careers in public relations, I can jump on the
bully pulpit of the column and take my protest
to the people.
That blasted committee has no idea what
they're passing up. Only once in a great while
does a writer come along to tap into the spirit of
the human condition and create something so
profound, so affecting, that it simply must be
shared with a larger audience. And when that
type of individual is not an option, that's when
you call a Chris Kula.
After all, the public is already familiar with
the style of a Chris Kula. Between print circula-
tion and online readership, it's safe to say that
at upwards of 50, 55 people read the column on
a weekly basis - and at least half claim to
enjoy it. And of those 25 diehard fans, research

shows that at least a half dozen are not cun' enatly
And once you subtract the fivc freshmen
girls I keep on my payroll, you'll ... all right,
have growq tired of this bit, and I care not 1 i
finish it.
The bottom line, in all seriousness, is that I
really am disappointed that I won't get e
chance to give the commencement s e
Sure, it would have been a thrill to speak before
thousands of people in the Big House, and 'sure,
it would have made for a great anecdote to
bring up completely out of context later in life
("No, doctor, I don't floss, but I was the speak-
er at my college graduation"). But what-most
disappoints me is the lost opportunity to add
some levity to the potentially too-solemn vibe
of the day.
I would have given a fun speech. No"We
are the future of tomorrow" cliches, no rev t
quotes from Churchill or Roosevelt, no exc s
read from "Tuesdays with Morrie" - just a
light-hearted message about being young. The
long line of distinguished faculty and learned
scholars at the ceremony could make their pro-
found statements about life for as long as they
want, and I'm sure some of them would'actual-
ly be very good.
But the best commencement speech? Sadly,
that's the one you won't be hearing - expt
in mumbles, through gritted teeth, if you'n -
ting anywhere near me during the ceremony. I
will have my very feeble, very sad vengeance.
Chris Kula 's column runs every Thursday. Give
him feedback at www.michigandailv.comf rum
or via e-mail at ckula(Tumich.edu.


Ruling allows 'U' to
focus on socio-
economic factors
I am writing to address the various affirma-
tive action lamentations published in yester-
day's Daily, "A hurtful decision: Friedman's
ruling damages diversity."
Judge Bernard Friedman's decision should
be welcomed here at the University and at the
Law School in particular. The decision gives
the law school the opportunity to move beyond
the stale idea that race is the best measure of
diversity. Every justification for affirmative
action at the law school centers on the idea that
a diversity of ideas is necessary for a complete
legal education. I agree, but the question then
becomes why race is used as a proxy for view-
point diversity. Somehow it is okay for the Law
School's admissions office to use stereotypes,
but not the rest of society.
Instead of race, the Law School should give
socio-economic factors more weight in admis-
sions. Maybe all the upper-middle class minori-
ty children of doctors and lawyers really do
have different views than the upper-middle
class white children with doctor and lawyer
parents, but I doubt it (and Law School class
discussion proves otherwise). Using a more
varied admissions process will yield better
viewpoint diversity, which has been the stated
point all along, rather than just diversity of skin
color. Viewpoint diversity is sorely lacking at
the Law School, as evidenced by the fact that
the Daily couldn't even find one Law Student
to go on record stating a position supporting
Judge Friedman's decision.
People really interested in improving legal
education should be happy with the verdict; this
case may give the University the political cover
to move beyond stereotypes of race that serve
as the back drop for the current admissions
process and into a process that seeks to help all
disadvantaged students, not simply students of
a minority race.
Second-year Law student
Affirmative action
decision grounded in
1964 Civil Rights Act
In their Viewpoint "Friedman's Anti-affir-
mative action decision must not stand,"
(3/28/01) Agnes Aleobua, Jessica Curtin and
Erika Dowdell charge that Judge Bernard
Friedman "relied on every dishonest legal trick
and lie" in his decision in favor of the plaintiffs
in the Law School affirmative-action trial. But
surely it was no lie to quote from Title VI of the
1964 Civil Rights Act: "No person in the Unit-
ed States shall, on the ground of race, color, or
national origin, be excluded from participation
in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to
discrimination under any program or activity
receiving Federal financial assistance." I chal-
lenge anyone to defend the legality of the Uni-
versity's admissions programs in light of that
unambiguous federal statute.
m .1

_K r

continues to elude the chief student publication
of one of our nation's best universities.
Perhaps the Daily has unwittingly succumb
to the pressures of the latest witch-hunt over-
taking America. Much like the label "Commu-
nist" could destroy a person's credibility and
reputation in the McCarthyist 1950s, so too
does the label "racist" today immediately dis-
credit and destroy the reputation of anyone
unlucky enough to be branded such. And just
like the Red Scare of the 1950s, the "White.
Scare" today can try, convict and destroy a man
with just an accusation.
People-are afraid today to express views
which favor the equality of all individuals
instead of giving favor to a "disadvantaged"
group, for fear that they will be labeled a racist.
As organizations like BAMN have demonstrat-
ed over and over again, anyone not sharing
their narrowly-held view of how to create
"equality" will be labeled a racist. This usually
happens at the point when their arguments fail
to hold up from either a logical or constitutional
approach, and the only way to "win" their argu-
ment is to discredit their opponent. Anytime
anyone disagrees with BAMN, out comes the
"R" word. In their viewpoint, "Friedman's
Anti-affirmative action decision must not
stand," (3/28/01), Jessica Curtin and her cronies
describe Judge Bernard Friedman's rulings as
"biased, unfair and racist." According to the
Daily, at a rally held after the verdict came
down, members of BAMN denounced Fried-
man as a "segregationist, Jim Crow judge"
Could it be possible, just for a moment, that the
man looked at the facts and rendered the best,
constitutionally-correct verdict he could, based
on the evidence presented? Not if you ask
BAMN. Anyone who stands in their way is a
The witch-hunt mentality is perhaps best
summed up by your quote in the story, "Stu-
dents shocked by decision" (3/28/01). First-
year Law student Ken Plochinski admits that
"There are students who do not fully agree with
the Law School's admissions policies, but no
one admits to their ambivalence." Another stu-
dent, who refused to be identified, also dis-
agreed with the school's policies, said simply
"Racial bias must end in all forms, and I view
affirmative action as a continuation of bias in
some form." Take a poll of everyone at the
University, and I guarantee that the vast majori-
ty will agree with that statement. Of course, the
student could not give his name for fear that
he'd be crucified (by BAMN and others) for his
It is a sad state of affairs when students at
an institution supposedly dedicated to intellec-
tual freedom are afraid to express their beliefs
and thoughts for fear they will be targeted by a

Outsourcing jobs at the University is a serious
travesty and the attitude of removing the union
positions by management only adds.to the
Unions, through their actions, brought the
nation the 40-hour week, health care benefits,
family medical leave, safety and health stan-
dards, overtime for work more than 40,hours,
minimum wage laws and others through' r
To remove union jobs, management must
consider that eventually they also, if not their
children, will eventually see a reduction in ben-
efits. Take a gander at how President George
W. Bush is formally attacking the union's posi-
tions on campaign contributions as an example
(www.aflcio.org/bushwatch/indx). Why would
management want to hold down the union's
ability to actively lobby?
The only gain would be concessions from
the union employees.
To those of you who are not conceredas
you graduate from the University and gain
employment, remember that the benefit pAck-
age you desire was a byproduct from the union
bargaining for its members. The companies,
corporations and various businesses had to
offer these same or comparable benefits td all
in order to keep the employees that they hire
from moving on. Additionally, better benefit
packages and job security keep long't
employees on for the employer, and whenie
employer can count on these employees the
operation will run at efficient levels.
Most of all remember this from Cesar
Chavez, past-president of the United -Farm
Workers: "Once social change begins, it cannot
be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person
who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate
the person who feels pride. And you cannot
oppress the people who are not afraid anymore"
Don't be afraid. Voice your opinion' and
help others.
University staff
The letter writer is the chief steward of
maintenance for AFSCME Local 1583.
How BAMN can find
next targets of their
anti-racism campahg?-
I would like to announce to all of the mem-
bers of BAMN that as a favor to them, I have
replaced all of the mirrors in their places of ies-
idence with magic mirrors a la Snow White.

I UtVI~ tJJI1JI 4~'td.VV~J. 411U ~l1~fl~k~4 t.AIIJ~L.' ~

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