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March 22, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-22

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 22, 2002

OP/ED

~b i rbi&u iji

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
letters@michigandaily.com

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

JON SCHWARTZ
Editor in Chief
JOHANNA HANINK
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.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
This great center
of democracy
is truly tainted
-by money."
- Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc. ) in this
week's Economist, shorty after the Senate
approved the most expansive campaign
finance reform plan in over 30 years.

TALEAD TOOK ZT~ rrsio
___I AVE7 TO S A&IT In r1o0?
aYOU MIGHTr WANNJA

THOMAS KULJURGIS Tf:NTATVELY SPEAKING

A

RAs: There are better ways to spend tuition dollars
JEREMY W. PETERS DON'T MAKE ME COME BACK THERE

44

he next time you're
in a residence hall on
campus I suggest you
take a long, hard look at the
numerous resident "advis-
ers" the University
bankrolls. If you're anything
like me, your reaction
should be something along
the lines of: "My tuition
money goes to these people?"
I place the word advisers in quotation marks
because whom do these people actually advise? I
certainly never went to my RA to do any soul
searching and I have yet to come across anyone
who has. If in fact you are one of these people
who seek out the infinite wisdom of your hall
mentor, your problems probably run a lot deeper
than you realize. I would suggest you seriously
consider leaving school all together.
RAs aren't trained to deal with any real prob-
lem a resident may have and no amount of sensi-
tivity training - or any of the other courses they
take that are supposed to turn 20 year olds into
social workers in a matter of days - will make
them capable of handling anything more than
cleaning up vomit in the bathroom.
Reading over a list of the responsibilities an
RA must fulfill to earn his or her rent-free loafing
period for an entire school year should make you
wonder why the University even bothers posting a
job description in the first place. Here are some
highlights:
"Implementing social programming and
demonstrating consistent availability and accessi-
bility ... Modeling a commitment to multicultur-

alism ... Creating and fostering a community in
which all the individuals are respected, while con-
tinuing to educate both residents and staff mem-
bers on issues of social identity."
Could you imagine a hallway like this? First
of all, I wouldn't want my RA to be available all
the time because that would mean I would have to
see him. (And let's face it, the residence hall staff
on campus isn't exactly the group of people I'd
like to see on the next Temptation Island.)
Second of all, "RA availability" is University-
speak for "Big Brother is watching." Except in
this case Big Brother is not the dominating,
Orwellian figure that eyes your every move, it's a
socially challenged junior or senior who never
quite made that first friend to share an apartment
with sophomore year. He or she is bitter and will
take that aggression out on you and your friends
after "quiet hours."
Since we've already established that RAs are
in no position to dispense therapeutic advice,
what's left for them to do? They can, and often
do, patrol the halls looking for people having fun
so they can end it promptly. But this basically rel-
egates them to the position of dorm tattle-tale and
I hardly see the University justifying paying for-
mer high school hall monitors to do this alone.
Instead, the University tacks on a host of fluff
duties like promoting multiculturalism and foster-
ing social awareness and call this position an RA.
The problem is that no one's interested in the
politically-correct package the school is pushing
So we're back at hall monitor as a role for
RAs now. But remember, we do have something
at this university called the Department of Public
Safety. They are the only ones with the pseudo-

authority to enforce residence hall rules, despite
the fear an RA might instill in his or her hallway
with the threat of being written up (which doesn't
amount to much).'
The University is essentially paying RAs to
do part of a DPS officer's job, and they're pay-
ing people who are utterly inept at doing so.
Anyone who thinks RAs are qualified as securi-
ty guards needs only to look at the bang-up job
they've done with the recent crime wave in Uni-
versity dorms.
I'll close with brief precis of my experience
with an RA.
When I moved into my dorm the first day of
my freshman year, my roommate and I were
greeted by a small, older-looking fellow who
offered to help us with some of our bags and
informed us that our presence was required at a
"mandatory" hall meeting later that day. Of course
we skipped that meeting - something for which I
have never forgiven myself because I was then
unable to run for hall rep and put it on my resume.
The next time I saw my RA was three years later
at Good Time Charley's. We reminisced briefly
about the hall; who had flunked out and who had
come out of the closet since.
The best thing about him was that he didn't
get in our way and we didn't get in his. This
unspoken arrangement was something that not
only benefited this man who wasn't there, but it
also was quite convenient for the 70 other guys in
my hall. No one complained. The underlying mes-
sage here: The best RA is no RA.
Jeremy W Peters can be reached
atjwpeters@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Kohen's column displayed
ignorance of international
affairs; United States' role
To THE DAILY:
I must say that I am both shocked and sad-
dened by the ignorance of international affairs
exhibited by Yael Kohen in her column Knocking
the French off their high horse in yesterday's Daily.
For over a decade, we have lived in a unipo-
lar world, and the disastrous results of this fact
can be seen around the globe. The American
military has taken it upon itself to hold the coun-
try of Iraq in continual poverty and destitution.
The United States felt that it had the right to
intervene in the Balkan civil war and created a
situation that is totally unsustainable without
international supervision in the process. Most
recently, the United States has taken upon itself
the right to invade the country of Afghanistan
and create a puppet government - something
our meddling never allowed the Soviets to do
two decades ago - under the guise of "elimi-
nating al-Qaida."
Unsurprisingly enough, however, the upper
echelons of al-Qaida have all managed to escape
capture, but since the United States has already
accomplished its goal of subjugating
Afghanistan, it doesn't seem to care anymore.
These are the consequences of our unipolar
world.
As long as superpowers - or just nations,
for that matter - exist, there must be some sort
of distribution of power to prevent a single
nation from running roughshod over the rest of
the world, as the United States does today. The,
need for this is made even more clear by
Kohen's callous disregard for international sen-
timent - a disregard that I fear is quite wide-
spread. How obvious does it have to be that if
one entity dominates many others, the dominat-
ed entities will feel violated (or, in her parlance,
"have their buttons pushed")? Nobody, whether
individual or nation, likes a bully or an authori-
tarian.
It is my hope that the United States and
Americans in general learn to get over the
revoltingly arrogant tendency to ignore moral
standards, common sense and international
opinion - both that of friends and enemies.
Even if people refuse to see this action in the
light of being the right thing to do, I would hope
that they could at least view it in the context of
common sense. After all, one who abuses their
friends will soon find themselves without any
friends at all and its a big world out there.
SEAN CARON
Engineering freshman
}ryit , f doA fieir t acf rna

was filled with half truths and outright lies. No
one lashed out at Horowitz when he talked to a
majority African American audience in terms of
sports, since he obviously thinks that's the only
arena blacks perform well in. Horowitz began
his. petty name-calling when he figured out that
he could not adequately address the questions
from the floor.
By suggesting that the forum almost "got
out of hand," the authors are doing nothing
more than trying to cover for the fact that the
Michigan Union administration went overboard
with the amount of police presence and an actu-
al canine which gave us all flashbacks to the
summer of 1963 when protesters in Birming-
ham, Ala. were confronted with police dogs and
water hose.
In the past, I have attended other controver-
sial public forums, but none of those events
were supplied with numerous cops and police
dogs. The message that the Union Administra-
tion sent is clear: When black students come out
to voice their opinions, it's time to bring out the
dogs. Is this a community that fosters diversity?
Furthermore, all of this negative press is
simply trying to take our minds off of the fact
that we have racists bigots among us. The hate
messages that have been targeted at both indi-
vidual students and students of color in general,
must stop. Members of the Daily should not
play a role in diverting attention away from the
real problems.
ERIKA DOWDELL
LSA senior
Daily biased in presentation
of White's former criticism
To THE DAILY:
We find the criticism of interim University
President Joe White in Tuesday's Daily to be
unwarranted and without merit only two and a half
months into his term. In particular, the headline
(Business faculty initially gave White low reviews) and
first page of the article prove to be an unfortunate
instance of misleading, biased journalism.
The casual reader quickly perusing the front
page might only catch that then-Dean White
received poor reviews from faculty members,
missing information buried later in the article
that these evaluations were conducted six to
eight years ago, with consistent, marked
improvement since.
This article also trivializes his many impor-
tant successes at the Business School, including
raising the school from mid-level rankings to
consistently ranking in the top 10 nationally
among Masters programs and top three among
Bachelors programs. The article also fails to
mention President White's remarkable fundrais-

interim president through student/faculty/staff
forums at all three Michigan campuses, as well
as Monday's-headline-garnering forum on
women's issues.
Instead of searching for reasons to criticize
and sway opinion against the interim President,
the Daily could better serve students by encour-
aging a permanent solution for the University's
top post and its list of recommendations should
begin and end with Joe White.
KYLE UREK
MARK POWERS
Alumni
Michigan Rew vindicates
Daily's BAMVN coverage
TO THE DAmY:
It may be bizarre to find a defense of the
Daily coming from the Michigan Review, but
the charges being made by the Coalition to
Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means
Necessary's Agnes Aleobua and Ben Royal are
completely off base. In our estimation, the Daily
has provided fair treatment and coverage to
BAMN, given BAMN's practices on this cam-
pus, its standpoints, and its means of furthering
its goals. Before BAMN members accuse the
Daily of unfair bias, they ought to ask whether
they have brought it on themselves.
To begin, BAMN takes an absolutist stand
that allows no room for disagreement. BAMN
believes affirmative action must be defended, as
is, with no changes, at all costs. This position is
extreme in the utmost. On a diverse campus
such as ours, it is not unreasonable to assume
that even a progressive mind might believe that
affirmative action should be tweaked, altered,
amended or even scaled back to cope with cir-
cumstances that have changed in the program's
30 year history.
Even so, much of BAMN's rhetoric mirrors
the words of Miranda Massie from the March
18 Daily (Homing apologizes in retraction letter),
"Anybody who claims to be against affirmative
action has to confront the basic fact that he is
standing up for the re-segregation of higher ed."
Not only is this sort of position completely
unreasonable in an environment of intellectual
openness, but it also smacks of a McCarthy-
esque mindset of "Disagree with us and you are
a communist/racist." The Daily has an editorial
responsibility to call this position unreasonable
even if it endorses affirmative action. There is a
difference between being progressive and being
dogmatic.
The Daily deserves further exoneration in its
claims that BAMN scares away moderates.
BAMN cannot help but scare away moderates
on the issue with its extreme rhetoric and strate-
pies that rely on nersonal intimidation. Since

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