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January 21, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-21

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 21, 2003

OP/ED

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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
Ind
a nudist
environment,
everyone is
the same..
Jim Bailey, co-owner of
Castaways Travels, which offers nude
flightsfrom Miami to Cancun in
celebration of Nude Week in May,
as quoted by the Associated Press.

KARL KRESSBACH & BEN CARRICO UNTIED NATION

FAFFIIATIV[ ACUODN EV(RY ANERIL2AI\
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percent plan fails to address key issues
sh has given "affir- side of the classroom. Any good uni-
ess" a number: 10. versity admissions officer should know
ercent Plan," with that a student is far more than a raw
s to replace affirma- numerical score.

Think MLK Day solves anything? Dream on
AUBREY HENRETTY NEUROTICA

action, was part of two amicus
Fs the White House filed with the
Supreme Court last week. The
Fs attacked the University's admis-
s policies as unconstitutional.
he plan, as detailed in the briefs,
Id guarantee admission to a state
ersity for the top 10 percent of stu-
s n every public high school. Simi-
ystems have been implemented in
s and Florida in the past five years
minimal success.
a Florida, where the "talented 20"
ent system has been in place for
years, the percentage of under-rep-
ited minorities has declined notice-
at the University of Florida at
iesville, the state's most selective
>us. In Bush's home state of Texas,
e he implemented the 10 percent
minority student enrollment in
universities has been stagnant
the program's introduction.
he 10 percent plan is flawed for a
mum of two reasons. First, the plan
considers test scores and grades as
ssions criteria. This rigid system
not allow universities to consider
aspects of a candidate's character
cannot be easily quantified. Nei-
an SAT score nor a grade point
age can adequately reflect a stu-
s strong commitment to communi-
rvice, leadership skills, political
vement or other achievements out-

Second, the 10 percent plan relies on
segregation in public high schools to be
effective. In taking the top 10 percent of
students from each school, the plan
ostensibly ensures that all geographical
areas are adequately represented. But to
suggest that this same system can be
used to guarantee specific racial and
ethnic representation in universities is
to accept that public high schools are
and should continue to be segregated.
The Grutter v. Bollinger brief sug-
gests that universities try to achieve
diversity by "easing admissions
requirements for all students." This
would hardly achieve the educational
rigor that the White House, and the
Supreme Court, has argued must be the
ultimate goal of higher education.
The Bush administration cannot
have it both ways. There cannot simul-
taneously exist a situation in which
there is no need for affirmative action
and one in which a plan that relies on
public school segregation will be effec-
tive. It is disturbing that Bush should be
so eager to accept unambiguous segre-
gation in public high schools for the
purpose of eliminating his squeamish-
ness with the methods of affirmative
action. Bush's "affirmative access" can-
not even satisfy the administration's
own demands for "race-neutral" admis-
sions criteria if its effectiveness pivots
upon segregation in schools.

hate to be a killjoy,
but I don't think Mar-
tin Luther King, Jr.'s
Birthday Observed is a
very important holiday.
King was a very impor-
tant man with great ideas
that we should celebrate
and discuss whenever
possible, but - and
maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age -
the holiday itself seems a rather hollow gesture.
Civil rights, easing human suffering, peaceful
collective action - we should talk about this
stuff every day, weave it into the fabric of our
society. If we need a day off from school to do.
so, perhaps that says more about the failings of
our education system than about our commit-
ment to everything King stood for.
I could never say this too loudly on the
streets of this hypersensitive college town with-
out getting verbally body-slammed by the near-
est group of hypersensitive student activists;
some of these people are unhealthily obsessed
with appearances. Usually the ones who think
Women's History Month is also a stellar idea,
though they object to the word "history"
because it begins with the same three letters as
the male possessive pronoun, so they often
pointedly say "herstory" instead.
(Sidebar: There are two ways to handle the
"herstory" police. The first and more responsi-
ble is to inform them that the English words
"his" and "history" respectively have Germanic
and Italic roots, meaning anyone who thinks the
etymology of "history" has anything to do with

gender is wrong. The second - less responsi-
ble, but infinitely more satisfying - is to point
out that "woman" and "wombat" also both start
with the same three letters or that "racist" and
"feminist" end with the same three. Then laugh
jubilantly and try to get away before their heads
explode all over you.)
As individuals, organizers mean well. The
speeches during MLK Day, Women's History
Month, Black History Month and other such
feel-good calendar designations are generally
very inspiring. We hear about heroes past and
present, people who single-handedly defined
movements or brought them to life, people who
spoke up for the little guy (or girl). It's all quite
positive. But implicit in all of these public
awareness campaigns and bank holidays is that
society somehow needs them - that no one
bothers to talk about Dr. King any other day of
the year, that every other month is White Men's
History Month.
And in that vein, these holidays are about
assigning responsibility. To what degree do we
hold ourselves responsible for the bad things
people did before we were born? For the bad
things people still do? Some argue that setting
aside a day or month to illuminate a few of our
forebears' more obvious mistakes is essential,
that there's always something we could be
doing now to make things better. It's our duty,
they say, as human beings to make the world
fair for the formerly oppressed and the currently
disadvantaged.
Ah, but there's a statute of limitation, isn't
there? As long as the injustice was great
enough and the requisite number of centuries

has gone by, it's perfectly PC to sweep the
issue under the podium. Just ask the descen-
dents of the people who lived in what is now
the United States when Christopher Columbus
and his fleet of heavily-armed, disease-infested
buddies showed up. Or better yet, ask propo-
nents of slave reparations; their take on the
European engulfment of the land is sure to be
more entertaining: "We believe in equal
opportunities for all! The righting of past
wrongs! The - I'm sorry, who? Well, we
can't be expected to just hand the whole coun-
try back over, can we? That's ridiculous! Now
run along, smartass - I'm busy. Ahem. We
must rectify the sins of ..." and so forth.
It's a tough call to make. While I have pro-
found respect for King and his political prede-
cessors (e.g. Gandhi) and anyone who strives
to change the world in a similar manner, I fear
that MLK Day itself contributes to a percep-
tion that King and his ideas are somehow sepa-
rate from what we ought to be thinking and
doing all the time. Extra-educational. "Sug-
gested" reading. A symposium to attend if
you're not sleeping off a hangover or playing
video games or catching up on homework or
whatever else it is that most (yes, most) Uni-
versity students were doing yesterday.
Which brings me back to my original point:
The man and the movement were great; the
ideas and accomplishments for which he paved
the way are great; but the holiday is all about
appearances. Look how far we've come.

F.

Aubrey Henretty can be reached
at ahenrett@umich.edu.

Anew ]Lott in life

:kering rises again in Republican Senate

fter ridding themselves of the
embarrassment and political
liability that was Sen. Trent
Mississippi, it appeared that
publican Party had finally
its lesson; in a society of racial
y and justice there is no place
try. But with President Bush's
enomination of U.S. District
harles Pickering Sr. to the U.S.
rcuit Court of Appeals, it
that it's back to politics as
r the Grand Old Party.
main concerns regarding this
tion arises from Pickering's
I legal past. In his time as a
ervant, Pickering has been a
pponent of racial, civil and
ctive rights. In 1976, as chair
luman Rights and Responsi-
Subcommittee for the Repub-
ational Convention, Pickering
d a platform that challenged
/ade and called for a Consti-
amendment to ban abortion.
a Mississippi state senator,
tg voted against legislation to
suffrage opportunities for
Americans after the Voting
ket in 1965.
:ring's most controversial act
idiciary was his inappropriate
of a 1994 cross burning case.
of complying with federal law,
ng took unusual lengths in
ng to reduce the sentence of a
tvicted of burning an eight-foot
the yard of an interracial cou-
firing shots at their house.
g, who called the incident "a
prank," threatened to order a

new trial in the case, made phone calls
to the home of one prosecutor and even
attempted to bring his concerns to then
Attorney General Janet Reno. His
underhanded dealings and corrupt tac-
tics were a misappropriation of his
judicial power.
The GOP is willing to move on
issues that garner lots of media atten-
tion, but on issues that slip under-
neath the radar, they are more likely
to be racially provocative. Moves
such as renominating Pickering for a
Court of Appeals judgeship prove
that Bush and the GOP will continue
to support questionable political fig-
ures unless challenged in the media.
Pickering's name does not carry
with it the notoriety that Lott's does.
His attitude toward race and his leg-
islative and judicial actions, however,
make him just as inflammatory as
Lott. Pickering's renomination is as
much an affront to justice as Lott's for-
mer position as Senate majority leader.
The Republican Party has for many
years been plagued by negative percep-
tions about its handling of race matters.
After Lott stepped down, the party was
afforded an opportunity to begin to
change those perceptions by continuing
to distance themselves from leaders like
Lott and connecting with minority
groups. By renominating Pickering, the
GOP has shown that the sensitivity and
commitment to racial justice they pro-
fessed during the Lott fiasco were
merely hollow overtures to minorities,
transparent attempts to forge an inclu-
sive image for a party tarnished with
the stain of racial intolerance.

Admissions woes lie in execution not ideals
JON SCHWARTZ TWO SIDES TO EVE RY SCH\WARTZ
ith the devel- I reminded him that I had about three pages community. But that never would have hap-
opments of the of extracurriculars. So he pulled out my appli- pened if I hadn't taken advantage of a chance
past week, and cation and explained that every one of the to get interviewed. And that is the greatest
those sure to come in the activities on my list was on the local level. problem with our admissions system.
next few months, the Michigan only awards points to activities out- My situation can't be the only one of its ilk.
admissions system at our side one's own school. And what I've learned from it is that even
university is going to get But as he went down the list, he asked if though our administration nobly looks to com-
the time in the spotlight my basketball team, which I marked down pose the most diverse student body possible for
that it sorely needs. But that I played for, was any good. I told him the benefit of everyone around, it can't possibly
not only because racial that even though we were a small Jewish pri- succeed in this goal without finding a way to
preference in admissions is a topic desperately vate school, we made it to the New Jersey interview every student. If racially preferenced
in need of evaluation; it's also imperative that semis for our league. admissions exist to repair past wrongs, I can't
our own administration use this opportunity to "State?" he asked. "Oh, I can give you a argue. It's neither here nor there. But regardless
examine other flaws in the department. point for that." of what the administration hopes to compose, a
As a focus of its defense in the admissions Though certainly generous, this infuriated piece of paper saying what an applicant has or
lawsuits, our administration says that, beyond me, much more so than being told I'd flown a hasn't done and a formula to add up the
test scores and grades, each applicant offers good way for no reason. After telling me that achievements is not enough to figure out who
valuable assets to the classroom experience that three pages of substantive extracurriculars were can add what to the greater community.
can benefit the education of everyone else. meaningless, he gave me recognition because I Surely it's a heady request to ask for about
Thus, diversity presents countless points of happened to join a team in high school. He 25,000 interviews, but it's not impossible, not
view that can prove paramount to providing the never asked if I played. He never asked if I was with the largest active alumni base in the coun-
most complete education possible. any good. He didn't ask if I'd try to play any try. Who knows how many people have been
This is an impressive ideal that I would sports at Michigan. He never asked if I had in turned away, not because of anything they did
have no trouble supporting if I believed that it any way contributed to my team's success. But or didn't do, but because it didn't look right on
was anything more than a defense for a system the mere fact that I had written on my applica- paper. Is the system working if a high school
under fire. But my experiences as an applicant tion that I played basketball apparently meant basketball jersey is worth more than the cre-
make me know otherwise. more than the countless ways that I had con- ation of a task force to curb consumption of
In early January 1999, my application was tributed to my school. illegal substances?
deferred by the University. Nevertheless, I pro- I lived a half hour from my school, about This is not a plea for or against affirmative
ceeded with my planned visit to the campus a 75 minutes on the bus. On most days, I got action. That question is for nine people in black
few weeks later, and followed my guidance home by 5:30 or 6 p.m., about 9 p.m. when I robes to answer. What I do want, though, is for
counselor's advice that I meet with an admis- had practice. When was I supposed to get a people to realize that the problem is in the exe-
sions counselor. There, I learned the intricacies job? When was I supposed to do community cution, not the ideal.
of Michigan's point system and was told that service? Realizing that my schedule didn't Our admissions system has flaws, and those
my prospects for admission were not good. I allow time to improve my community, I did opposing what they see as some of them will
had scored an 86 and the bar for early admis- everything I could to improve my school. soon get their day in the highest court. My only
sion, which would go up as the year pro- But I was a number in an admissions formu- hope is that the evaluation doesn't end there.
gressed, was 90. He told me that my grades and la, and I didn't compute.
test scores were fine but that I didn't have any Somehow I got accepted, and I'd say that I Jon Schwartz can be reached
extracurriculars. have made a substantial contribution to the atjlsz@umich.edu.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

0

Horn jumped the gun on
NRA's culpability for violence
To THE DAILY:
I was reading David Horn's Lock, stock and
two panicked nations (01/17/03) the other day and
I was upset to see the usual false bias within his
article. Horn implied that the National Rifle
Association is a cause of poor decisions on the
sake of gun owners (ie. gun crime).
I wonder if he has ever attended an NRA
event, or attended a course of theirs. I for one
am taking a Personal Protection/Basic Pistol
Course taught by NRA instructors and the most
important message conveyed is gun safety. They
recommend gun locks, gun safes and all the pos-

own those guns. Hopefully, next time before
Horn tries to bash an organization he'll take
the time to experience the organization face-
to-face before making poor assumptions.
GARY KLEIN
LSA senior
Co-op's flier does not convey
ICC minority experience
To THE DAILY:
I caught wind of the party flier (Joint Coop-
erative House unfairly pressured to call off MLK
Day party, 01/17/03) over e-mail days ago by
people who saw it and had a problem with the

incidents like this are what gave the ICC that
reputation. And while it may have seemed
funny to Caron and others, the consequences
aren't.
Call it lighthearted, call it a mistake, call it
insensitive or racist. It doesn't matter. The con-
sequence is that this doesn't help the ICC's
image nor does it address the underlying issue.
Certainly Caron, the flier's creators or I might
be nonplused by the way King was portrayed on
it. But what of those who thought the ICC might
be a viable option for saving money while in
school (while also learning about themselves
and others and making lifelong friends - a very
valuable experience). Is it as viable if its mem-
bers don't really see the consequences of their
actions?
I say let Joint have their party and if you

_ _ _ __
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THE BOONDOCKS

-. ~ ' 0 . x

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