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March 11, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-11

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 11, 2003


Ulbe £tch tc u I


SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

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.

C(I put it on to
remind myself that not
every patriot thinks we
should do to the people
of Baghdad what bin
Laden did to us."
- Journalist Bill Moyers on why he will
begin wearing an American flag pin,
as quoted in this weeks' Metro Times.

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When actors attack: a politician's PR nightmare
H ollywood's out- then merely associating with them would dis- more to say about social injustice and/or
pouring of anti- credit whatever cause I'm trying to legitimize. human suffering than the latter.
war sentiment Good riddance. Am I saying I think it's possible that
has got a good number But the previously mentioned naysayers Joe Famous might be a more reliable
of God-fearing Ameri- just can't let the simple ones go. And source of information and insight than the
cans all in a tizzy. instead of pointing out flaws in Joe's argu- president? Yes. It's entirely possible. Here
Pursed-lipped pundits ment, they call him stupid: "He can't possi- in the United States, where "even a C-stu-
shake their heads sadly bly know what he's talking about. He's an dent can be president," a man's ability to
on national television actor! He probably can't even read!" win an election or two is not necessarily
while easily perturbed Because most Americans - who by all indicative of his special knowledge of any-
private citizens boycott movies and TV accounts take themselves far too seriously - thing pertaining to said elected position.
shows in vain protest, all of them asking like their pop culture disposable and their That's not to say everyone should
the same indignant question: "What gives activism in hindsight only - and because immediately purchase tickets to Miss Teen
celebrities the right to throw their fame there is no room in high school history text- Pop Star's next rally for or against the
behind political causes?" books for anyone but ex-presidents and yel- cause; it is to say that singling out celebri-
Although askers of this question claim to low journalists - actors, artists and ties as the source of all ignorance in social
care primarily for the public good, for the musicians who espouse their political beliefs and political debates is scapegoating at its
gullible masses who may (bless their sorry are often held us up as laughingstocks, buf- most desperate. In the case of war with
little hearts) attach undue credibility to the foons who'd better serve the planet if they Iraq, it suggests that the pro-war camp and
words of their entertainment idols, their cri- left the important historical decision making the media are either so consumed by jeal-
tiques of the actors in question suggest their to the adults. To those seeking alternatives to ousy for the actors and actresses they per-
motives may be a tad more selfish than that. presidential catchphrases and unquestioning ceive to be stealing their thunder and their
Those who denounce celebrity cause-hocking obedience, pundits insist that there are none. supporters that they must resort to play-
usually suffer from influence-envy and lack Everyone wants to believe his or her ground insults to maintain a sense of digni-
confidence in their own arguments. chosen career matters. Everyone wants to ty, or that they are trying to distract
Uninformed celebrity activism is a won- be important, no one more so than the gov- would-be peaceniks from serious flaws in
derful way to root the idiots out of any move- ernment official and the television political the battle plans. It is a very bad idea to
ment. Let me put it another way: If there are commentator. Creative professionals - be trust people solely because we recognize
people out there who will disagree with me they actors, musicians, writers of popular their faces, their names or their work, but it
because Joe Famous says they should - and fiction or poetry or visual artists - are is equally unwise.to dismiss them outright
not because Joe Famous makes a convincing often dismissed as decorative members of for the same reasons. If the revolution is to
case against my point of view - then I will society so wrapped up in their own egos begin in Hollywood, so be it; I just hope
send them off to join the ranks of the opposi- that they don't pay any attention to anyone the rest of us can make it through the pre-
tion with my blessing. I don't want those peo- or anything else. While it is a lot tougher views without getting nauseous.
ple on my side. If they're dim-witted and for an artist than a U.S. president to secure
reckless enough to follow Joe just because he a place in the next generation's social stud- Henretty can be reached
has niceteeth and his own weekly sit-com, ies class, the former may have volumes atahenrett@umich#du.

Residence hail libraria
undeivalued,' underpaid
Librarians and library workers at the Uni-
versity are systematically underpaid, and their
work systematically undervalued. This fact.
quickly becomes apparent in observing the
University's dealings with librarians who seek
to improve their working conditions and pay
through collective bargaining. Residence hall
librarians joined the Graduate Employee
Organization in Fall 2002, after a year-long
struggle with the University. They are current-
ly negotiating their first collective employ-
ment contract. RHLs have been among the
more exploited workers on the University
campus, receiving only $5,500 a year for 30
hours of work a week. Although the RHLs
have now joined GEO, the University is still
seeking to pay them at a much lower rate than
other graduate student staff assistants and
graduate student instructors, simply because
they are librarians. In addition the University
has yet to pay RHLs fairly for work that they
have completed.
The systematic undervaluation of librarians
and their work is no mere accident. Library
work has long been portrayed as "women's
work" and hence thought unworthy of respect
or fair wages. Such attitudes contribute to the
gender gap in pay. In Michigan, which lags far
behind the national average, working women
earn only 67 cents for every dollar earned by
working men. The University's casual disre-
gard for librarians and library work is thus dis-
appointing on two counts. First, as an
institution that claims a commitment to excel-
lence in education and research, the University
should be swift to value librarians' work, rather
than stingy. Second, as a major employer in the
state of Michigan, the University has a moral
obligation to help close the gender gap in pay,
rather than widening it still further. The Uni-
versity should begin to meet this obligation at
once by paying RHLs the same as other
GSSAs and GSIs.
Residence hall librarians make
important contriuios to aca-
demic fife at University
I am a former residence hall librarian (at

dents study in the hall library, perhaps reading
an assignment that was on reserve for the living
learning program in their hall, but they also
catch up on events happening in the world
through the books, newspapers, and computers
provided. Students may attend a program in the
library at which they learn something new about
another culture, ask for help from the librarian to
find resources for a paper, or maybe just take a
break in a comfortable, inviting atmosphere.
What is vital is that the libraries exist as a space
to extend the community of the hall, and that the
RHL has the tools necessary to do her/his job
properly and in a professional manner.
These tools include proper training on
how to run the library, and respect from both
University Housing and the School of Infor-
mation for the work done by the RHLs.
Housing has already taken steps to ensure the
future success of the hall libraries by signing
a tentative agreement with the RHLs that
gives them tuition, a larger stipend, and
health insurance. A memo has also been
drafted that agrees to develop training recom-
mendations for the RHLs. These are encour-
aging steps, and I hope that Housing follows
through on these agreements.
Being a RHL is an excellent opportunity for
a School of Information student planning to
work in libraries to become closer to the Uni-
versity community and learn valuable profes-
sional skills. If the University and University
Housing truly value the commitment they've
made to the idea that the "Residence Hall
Libraries manifest the University Housing Resi-
dence Education living and learning philoso-
phy," they'll give the fullest support possible to
the Residence Hall Librarian program.
Finkelstein misrepresented by
critics; U appearanCe good
Over the past week, the Daily has published
two letters by vocal members of the pro-Israel
community criticizing Students Allied for Free-
dom and Equality for their invitation of Norman
Finkelstein to the University. Both letters con-
textually distort the writings of Finkelstein and
have the clear objective of delegitimizing SAFE
by making inflammatory attacks against the aca-
demics that we invite to campus.
Finkelstein is a professor of political sci-
ence at DePaul University, and is a highly-
regarded academic. He tours the country, often
at the invitation of university departments, to
discuss topics ranging from his book, "The

mote dialogue and a critical assessment of the
status quo by bringing in speakers that,
although may be perceived as controversial by
some elements of the pro-Israel community on
campus, are well-respected academics in their
field. We also urge these members of the pro-
Israel community to halt their character assas-
sinations and smear campaigns, and attempt to
base their arguments on the issue at hand -
the Arab-Israeli conflict.
LSA sophomore
Vice-chair, SAFE
Honors Commons's benefits
should be avale to al
I write to endorse the Daily's editorial, Cof-
fee Talk (03/07/03), and to oppose the letters
written by Yasmin Naghash (Honors Commons
a fair reward, 03/10/03) and Gwen Arnold and
Stephen Darwall (Editorial reveals a complete mis-
understanding, 03/10/03).
First, I am bothered by the notion in
Naghash's letter that Honors students deserve
certain privileges because they value "academ-
ic excellence." Hogwash! As if the rest of us
plebes do not. Rather, the commons represents
a further pampering of already entitled stu-
dents. In the six years that I have taught at this
University I have taught over 400 students,
slightly over a quarter of whom have been
Honors students. Allowing for the usual
caveats about generalizing from one's own
experience, my observation suggests that
there's no difference in student quality or work
ethic based on whether they are in the Honors
Program; if any difference does stand out it's
the Honors students' higher propensity to
complain vociferously about grades since, as
so many of them have told me in no uncertain
terms, they haven't received lower than an A
since that stupid math teacher in 7th grade
failed to appreciate their sure brilliance and
promise (typically evidenced by their eventual
acceptance into the Honors Program). I mean,
how arrogant (and delusional) does one have
to be to claim as a freshman that one is
"exceptional in their field?"
Second, the elitism that Arnold and Darwall
admit exists but suggest should not be viewed
pejoratively (I'm clearly not Honors material
for I do not understand their argument about
elitism; I tried thinking hard but my head began
to ache) is a rejection of the University's
responsibility to foster "an intellectual and cul-
tural community" for all its students, not just the
"smart" ones. For the same reasons that I am a
fervent supporter of the University's affirmative




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