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September 03, 2002 - Image 30

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-03

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6B - The Michigan Daily -- New Student Edition

My education is more important than your children

MSAs staggering journey
to war d irrelevance

The Graduate Employees
Oranization's latest contract
chnsnegotiations and dugout-style
chnsfor solidarity-in-the-face-of-
the-evil-oppressor have been wildly
entertainig. It's been delightftul to
see the University searching in vain
Sfor a subtle way to call GEO organ-
izers whiny little brats, the under-
graduate GEO cheerleading squad
insisting that depriving graduate stu-
dent instructors of childcare is a crime against humanity
and the vocal opposition voicing insightful words of dis-
sent (e.g. "GSIs suck!"); I could hardly decide who to
laugh at first.
I am pro-GSI; I recognize the contributions they make
to my education. I am pro-union. I am pro-GSIs-having-
unions. There's nothing better than a group of people
whose express purpose is to damn the Man (or the Univer-
sity, as it were) whenever it sees fit, even if the Man/Uni-
versity in question is benevolent and not in need of
damning. The Man and the University tend to be honest
more often when they think others are watching.
Unions have high self-esteem. Unlike individual
workers, who are small and weak and mumbly, unions
do not ask nicely. Unions demand. But once the
demands surpass a certain level of absurdity (a com-
pletely subjective level which only I and others I deem
of comparable intellectual prowess are capable of iden-
tifying), the battle hymns start to sound suspiciously
like whining.

Ask any 22-year-old waitress who is paying her own
rent and tuition and taking out her own loans if she thinks
GSIs should have access to free childcare. She will say,
"Childcare? They're going to graduate school for free. Cry
me a fucking river. And hand me that ketchup while
you're over there:' Is it because she lacks a full under-
standing of the plight of the downtrodden GSI? Does her
blase attitude toward profanity prove that she is not only
simple-minded, but also bitter and morally bankrupt?
Maybe. But maybe she has a point. Remember that
her working conditions are horrifyinig compared to the
GSI's slightly cramped communal office space and
that she earns less money per year than the average
GSI, even if you don't count the tens of thousands of
dollars in tuition, the r~sum6 filler and the personally
edifying teaching experience the GSI gets. With her
meager income alone, the waitress must also eat and
finance her education. From her perspective, GSI Joe
has a pretty sweet deal.
You can (and many will) blow this argument out of
proportion. You can say, "So, what you're saying is that
anyone born into ~a relatively stable household should
not strive to improve her life just because she has it so
much easier than that the kid down the street with the
dead mother, deranged father, alcoholic older sister and
schizophrenic younger brother" as smugly as you
please, confident in the knowledge that you are better
than me.
Of course that isn't what I'm saying. Weren't you
paying attention before when I was going on about how
great unions are?

iIt's just that when GEO starts shaking its fist about
isright to unionize and its entitlement to free childcare,
it starts looking like the multi-million-dollar-apiece cast
members of marginally funny sitcoms striking because
their latt~s are always cold by the time the star-struck
intern can run them across the street from Starbucks.
Easy on the hyperbole, you say. This is different.
This is not about latt~s or millions of dollars. This is
about children. Don't I think everyone has a right to free
childcare? Would I like to tell little Jimmy why I don't
think mommy's school/work should pay for him to go
play with the other kids and expand his brilliant little
mind while mommy is working and going to school?
This is not about children. It's not. If it were only
about children, GEO zealots would suck in their guts
and take out a loan like everybody else before crying
injustice at the University. All things considered, they
would still probably graduate in shallower debt than
peopln e pai thi ow tuition. GEG framed its
disgeewth them (What? Are yusinyothk
pople who have cildren should not haven equ access
to education? You wn!).ulaces
I am not saying that and I am not a worm. I am a
student who has not lost sight of how lucky she is to be
here despite the daunting tuition bills that periodically
show up in her mailbox. I like children and unions and
(iSIs. But I can't stand people who whine.
Aubrey Henrety can be reached at ahenrett@umichkedu.


Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker: 9/11-ing the Death Star

he Naked
Mile was a
d eb ae e.
The thousands of
Un iver sit y s tu-
dents who eagerly
lined South Uni-
versity in anticipa-
tion for something
were extremely
disappointed. A few members of Stu-
dents Organizing for Labor and Eco-
nomic Equality set an example by
stripping down to their briefs and
hoped the crowd would follow suit.
A t mo st 50 students and random
hangers-on participated. It was an
unimpressive display.
Unlike previous years, the Mile
came and went with little advance
preparation from the Michigan Stu-
dent Assembly. Last year, Women's
Issues Committee Chair Elizabeth
Anderson printed "Naked Mile Securi-
ty" T-shirts and MSA organized a pha-
lanx of student volunteers to prevent
groping and sexual assault. While
their efforts proved to be relatively
craon o lca plieag~eni es,
MSA's willingness to strongly oppose
the University continued in the
vibrant tradition of activism that was
once inculcated in MSA.
This-year, lack of interest and apa-
thy dominated MSA's decision-making
process. MSA simply let the Mile end
with a whimper. There was no con-
certed effort to challenge the Universi-
ty's stance. This malaise is not a recent
development. With the notable excep-
tion of last year's approach to the
Naked Mile, MSA has rapidly moved
away from the. political daring and
activism that once defined and moti-
vated MSA.
In November of 1990, the Univer-
sity erupted in protest and civil dis-
obedience when the Board of Regents
gave DPS officers the authority to
carry firearms. While students occu-
pied the Fleming Administration
Building, then-MSA President Jen-
nifer Van Valey stood in support and
voiced her opposition from Fleming.
"As of 9:30 tonight, there is a state of
activism declared on campus," she
shouted in support of a simultaneous
sit-in on the lawn of the President's
House. Her presence and support gave
the demonstrators an authority and
importance that only a popularly elect-
ed campus leader can provide.
This tradition of activism contin-

ued into the '90s with MSA's refusal
to passively accept former University
President James Duderstadt's chal-
lenges to students free speech. A 1993
ban that prevented students from rally-
ing on the Diag during Martin Luther
King Day and prohibited chalking led
to a rally where former MSA Presi-
dent Ede Fox denounced the restric-
tions, "It's a tradition that a lot of
people really care about, being able to
come here and stand on the steps of
the Grad library and hold a rally." In
1995, MSA President Flint Wainness
secured a position for a student on the
committee that authored the Student
Code of Conduct. These MSA presi-
dents acted boldly although they
risked alienating student support for
their parties and drew acrid criticism
from both students and University
Now MSA is content to put on a
symposium and pass half-hearted,
meaningless resolutions. Political con-
cerns and the possibility of re-election
have prevented the expression of
MSA's conscience.
W hil thi role is im otnt, M A anr
better serve the University community
through representatives proactively
discussing issues. Representatives who
serve as flash points for issues, criti-
cism and controversy will reinvigorate
a campus struggling with the throes of
MSA is vested with the authority
to represent the University's students.
It is the best mieans for student con-
cerns to be addressed and taken to the
administration. MSA needs to reevalu-
ate its direction and this process must
begin with individual representatives
who are dissatisfie d with MSA's
entrenched status quo.
While the future of the Naked Mile
is not the most significant matter at
the University, there are pressing con-
cerns that will benefit from an infu-
sion of MSA debate and active
involvement. If MSA representatives
and executives assert themselves, the
discussion concerning the termination
of New Era Cap Company's contract
with the University will be more
robust and fruitful. These issues
shouldn't be constrained to the domain
of narrowly focused student groups,
but should concern every member of
the University.
Zac Peskowitz can be reached at


L ke it or not,
Luke Sky-
walker ..
If Dubya was
president of some
intergalactic federa-
tion a long time ago
in a galaxy far far
away, chances are he
would have nothing to do with the
impetuous, conniving Rebel Alliance.
Yes, the impetuous and conniving
Rebel Alliance. It is through narrative
and cinematic slight of hand that viewers
believe the Rebel Alliance is a group of
socially aware upstarts seeking to equal-
ize the way of life in the galaxy through
the careful destruction of what the story
depicts as the "evil Empire." This one-
sided tale of intergalactic freedom fight-
ing is something completely and
altogether different at its core. Instead of
simply being the championed tale of a
small group spitting in the face of a con-
trolling organization, careful examina-
tion of Lucas' universe is relevant in a
galaxy half-a-world away in the near-
present day.
The term terrorist is interchangeable
with the term freedom fighter. Consulta-

tion of the grail of credibility in all socio-
political discussions (the Star Wars saga)
reiterates the two terms vice-vers-age.
Through Lucas' "Star Wars" films, view-.
ers are forced to associate with the Rebel
Alliance (who are little more than a
group of rag-tag militants), while view/-
ers are expected to hate the "evil, nefari-
ously corrupt and oppressive Empire." It
is through Lucas' eyes that we see the
Rebel Alliance as freedom fighters, not
the terrorists that they are. This is
because of the story's narrative frame.
Contrastingly, the story of "Star
Wars" insists that we hate the Empire.
They are shown as a malevolent order,.
ruthless and cold-blooded. But the fact
of the matter is, that the Empire is the
ruling body of the galaxy. This is cer-
tainly not designed to champion all rul-
ing governmental ruling bodies, despite
their track record, but the Empire (dis-
counting the whole Alderaan fiasco) is
a well-managed, well-funded govern-
mental body. But, because Americans
are so enthralled with the idea of
democracy and the Empire is a dictator-
ship, Lucas propagandas us into think-
ing they are evil.
How so?
Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine's

elimination of the Jedi is referenced in
the original trilogy. It is the elimination
of the Jedi (peacekeepers) that, is sup-
posed to turn us partially against the
Empire. But what the film fails to recog-
nize is that there is no way that Vader
and Palpatine's removal of the Jedi killed
more people than Luke Skywalker's
lucky pair of proton torpedoes. When
the Death Star blew up, Luke Skywalker
launched an attack of terror many, many
times worse than the Sept. 1I tragedy. In
fact, Skywalker's shot heard round the
galaxy resulted in a million deaths,
winked out of existence by the "good
side" of the force. For those of you keep-
ing track at home that'd be like blowing
up all of Detroit. We could only be so .
fortunate. Because of the interchange-
ability of the rhetoric, both the Empire
and the Rebel Alliance could be pegged
terrorists. ,
The eradication of the Jedi is an
interesting conundrum. It is here we see
the Empire remove a faction that is a rul-
ing body (Jedi Council) and after that
elimination, the Empire instills its own
form of government. Does this sound
familiar to anyone else? While Sadaam
Hussein is certainly not a benevolent
lightsaber wielding peacekeeper, our

hushed intentions to enter Iraq and
replace him rings strangely true.
While the United States refuses to
deal with terrorists, we are guilty of
entering numerous countries and' train-
ing their residents as guerrillas. But
guerrillas and freedom fighters are noble
and just and good and right. Anyone we
train is undoubtedly wonderful -- for we
are the United States.
Freedom fighters are terrorists.
They are attempting to usurp a gov-
emnent or a dictatorship through vio-
lent means. This sounds strangely
similar to the Palestinians actions in the
Middle East. They are trying to free
themselves and establish their own
nation. They believe they are freedom
fighters. Whether or not a Palestinian
strapping a bomb to his/her chest and
blowing the hell out of a grocery store is
an act of freedom fighting or an act of
terror is decided by the narrative point
of view.
Just ask big George, who has a high-
er body count to his credit, Darth Vader
or Luke Skywalker. I'll give you a hint'
- it's the terrorist, not the dark lord.
Luke Smith cnbe rahed a
lukems(Euch. edu.




Navigating through 'U'
Administration must find balance
between guidance, independence

Using our uniqueness
If 'U' wants a stronger undergraduate
-community, look to all A2 students first

Acentral proposition of the Pres-
ide nt's Commission on the
AUndergraduate Experience is
to increase contact between students
and faculty. While this idea may have
some mernt, the role of the University
is not to serve as a jparental figure but
to engender a spinit of independence
among its undergraduates.
Undergraduates must be allowed
to grow and discover on their own
terms. The University must carefully
balance student independence wit h
improved academic and social advis-
ing that encour-
ages students to
ta a dvantage of ~
the University's \~'
many resources a
and events.
A vital aspect
ofthe re ort is the '
~ro osa1 to over- ~
advising system.
The University's ~
requirements forr
both graduation Gn
tions make advis- ~"- N
ing .a critical ~
student need. But Form
too often, advis- I I
in gstops at the ' ~ gaua
rudimentary level ,hPIw
of informing stu-
dents of require- i7~,/
ments and does "
not continue by ~
develop in~ aer-
tual relationship
with advisees.
Due to this
lack of communication, advisers for
the most part are often not able to
tell students which classes would be
personally enjoyable and interesting.
The difficult course decisions that
undergraduates are confronted with
are all too often made with little sup-
port and personal consideration.
A possible threat to student inde-
pendence is increasing the faculty

dents an opportunity to begin the
transition toward self-reliance. Facul-
ty in the residence halls may need-
lessly create conflict between
students and faculty. The typical
undergraduate's life and that of a
middle-age professor are completely
In addition, the prop.osal abounds
with logistical corn p ications. The
size of the residence halls makes any
attempt at this program
almost in feasible.
There would
have to be a
AMINFN number of
EPORT program to
have even a
J' 'dence halls
are alre ady
above capaci-
SSTUDENTS /tyf and any
RADUTE YEARS faculty in th
buildings will
information, deprive under-
Univesty' Under graduates o f
rorta rooms in the
'.mihaduca Iunderga r e s i d e n c e
H owever,
-. the report also
Ip contains many
ide De nt
- 7 the Universi-
~ - ty's enormous
size, many
opportunities go unnoticed by the
student body.
By better informing students of
the University's cultural events and
study-abroad programs, increasing
the interaction between academic
and social activities and removing
obstacles to interdisciplinary and
inter-college education are all ways
the University can better the under-

The President's Commission on the Under-
graduate Experience acknowledges that
surveys and studies show that the Univer-
sity's undergraduate programs are strong. It is
good to see that the University administration,
even with such success, still strives to improve.
In seeking to unify the academic and social lives
of undergraduates, the report focuses largely on
undergraduate housing.
Unfortunately, it is clear that "the University
as a city" pt or is taen very seriously by the
Commssion - so senously thatteneetth
context of the University within the city of
Ann Arbor. The commission comes to the
conclusion that an
advancement of the
undergraduate expe-
rience rests on draw- ~
into on-campus N]
housing; in doing so,
the commission for-
gets its own warning ~
about mimicking > ( -
smaller institutions. -L
One of the Universi- '-
ty's major strengths ~
is the independence 'i#
of its students - an NEslYH
idpndne f- NEGHBORHOC
pus expenience. - TOWN-GOWN I
A"S UIQUEFor more informai
ENVIRONMENT view th Uirs
Unlike many Unegaut
large public research htIwwumced
institutions, the Uni-...Kc
versity's Ann Arbor '~"
campus does not
sand alone n a
is integrated into the V- ,
urban fabric of the a _______
city. The difiuision of
campus into the neighborhoods that surround it
make Ann Arbor an attractive place for students
from around the world.
If the University as an institution were trans-
ferred to the land that Michigan State University
occupies in East Lansing, our institution would
be a vastly different place. The city of East Lans-
ing and Michigan State's campus are two differ-
ent entities with a clear division. Ann Arbor on
the other hand has neighborhoods with individ-

stories at Ivy League institutions and Stanford
University. While these environments work in
smaller institutions, such units, if fully integrated
into the University community, would threaten
the very nature of how the.University and Ann
Arbor interact. The University should not pour
resources into programns that would further
cloister the campus and decrease the living inde-
pendence of its students. It should understand
that the "University as a city" metaphor neces-
sarily includes the cit of Ann Arbor and use its
resources to enhance ties between itself
and the city. For example, studying
off-campus housing patterns with
he goal of implementing pro-
N grams to better community life
outside the residence halls would
be a good step. Bettering ties to
~GR ADU organizations like the Ann Arbor
1' Tenant's Union would also be a
positive step as well.
However that doesn't mean
the University should ignore the
residence halls either. Plans to
>~7'. 1)'~renovate aging residence halls are
Soverdue to make them compara-
JSING, .<. ble to other universities. Some
5 AND reasons why so m any soho-hal;
u s of residence hall amenities and
n Lindependence. Any new plans
should focus on suites and apart-
ment-like set-ups where students
can feel a sense of independence,
:2:c-but are still initegrated into the
commumt. A mandatory resi-
dential college set-up, like the
repor avocates, will not work
om easehousing must also be partially
en =""included in the University's advo-
cacy of diversity. And cost must
not be prohibitive.
The report also calls for the end of home state
"colonies" in the residence halls. Though a laud-
able goal of extending diversity, this outlines a
strategy to eliminate the ability of incoming
freshmen to choose roommates or preference a
particular area of campus to live. Giving students
choice in living arrangements must remain an
option. The University should make a better
effort to encourage diversity within the residence

UsEs ThE FOmcE.





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