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October 21, 2002 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-10-21

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 21, 2002


be 1Iirbigtwn OatiZg



SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

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

"Still, even
J.P. Morgan
didn't have
a Gulfstream."

' -
"a I f, { C $
d 4
Muial6Ncoov s-

- Paul Krugman, describing the
growth of wealth inequality in
the Unites States over the past
century, in yesterday's New York
Times Magazine.

It's not the date rape seminars, it's the date rape

ere are many rea-
ons that contribute
o my general dis-
taste for the Greek system
at this University and fra-
ternities and sororities in
general. There's the
phoniness of dealing with
rushees, the cruelty in
handling pledges and, quite simply, the ease
with which I can improve any rough day with a
quick jab at this fraternity or that sorority girl.
Largely, the reason people like myself can so
often sling mud is because of everything that we
saw during the first half of our freshman year,
when flocking to ZBT with our 60 closest
friends was the only way we knew of to imbibe.
In my case, it also has something to do with the
fact that since that time, I've surrounded myself
with people who feel the same way.
But in reality, the biggest reason is just that
the Greeks make it so damned easy.
I think it is beyond dispute that, at least on this
campus, the Greek system fosters an environ-
ment that encourages the proliferation of many
societal dangers. Now, before any of you frat
boys sign on to your e-mail account to attack me
for that last statement, think about it this way:
What message did you give to potential brothers
when you were holding your rush activities? Did
it sound anything like this: "The Interfraternal
Community at the University of Michigan is
dedicated to working together to promote a
shared vision of integrity, academic excellence,
brotherhood, service to community and commit-
ment to the highest ideals of Greek Life."
That's the statement the Interfratemity Coun-
cil posts on its website, and it's a noble and

impressive goal. But to credit the IFC for hav-
ing high-reaching hopes does not excuse the
Greeks themselves for failing miserably at
reaching these heights.
Like it or not, the Greek system on this cam-
pus is synonymous with drugs, alcohol, deaths
and date rape. And that isn't by accident. The
image that the system gives off to those on-the
outside, including me, is that while it obviously
doesn't explicitly encourage drinking yourself
dead or becoming so drunk that you take advan-
tage of another partygoer, it does little to stop
these things from happening.
I know that what Ijust said sent IFC President
Joel Winston into a fit of madness. But again,
my problem is not with Winston or the IFC. I
think it's noble that the committee reacts to these
issues by changing the rules for their parties and
holding seminars to teach the wrongs of date
rape. My problem, though, is not that they hold
the seminars - it's the fact that they need to
hold the seminars. I can support the fact that they
put sober monitors at all their parties - I just
wonder what kind of society of college-aged
people needs sober monitors.
Let me point out that I understand the dan-
gers of condemning the Greek system, or any
community, based on allegations. But if the
defense against my claims is simply that the
accusations are not always true, then I must
question why this system is so prone to facing
such allegations and attacks.
I've been to many parties since coming to
Michigan. My house even hosted one recently.
Not once have I been asked to remain sober at a
party to ensure that no one killed himself. Not
once, in the week before my house or apartment
invited people over, have I gone to a seminar to

remind me that when I start having a good time,
it would be an insensitive and wrong thing to do
if I chose to take advantage of someone party-
ing with me. And yet I have never been to a
party and watched someone drink or drug him-
self to death. I have never been to a party that
led to a date rape. Furthermore, I've never even
dealt with false accusations of such things
directed at my housemates or me.
Does my successful record at throwing and
attending parties (knock on wood) mean that
I'm some sort of righteous person and I know
how to pick a lame party? No, it means that I'm
a civilized human being. So are my friends. It's
not that we shun alcohol, but rather, that we can
also be counted on to remain legitimate mem-
bers of society, even after a few drinks.
If the Greek system wants to shed these repu-
tations, it needs to stop handling these issues
reactively. Forget about seminars; start getting
rid of the animals that don't belong in the frater-
nities, let alone at our dear University.
The fraternities on this campus cannot hold
themselves to different ideals than their organiz-
ing body. Something has to give - either all our
Greeks need to adapt their beliefs to the morals
of the IFC, or the council needs to give in to the
disturbing desires of some of its constituents.
But if you're going to dedicate your system
to "working together to promote a shared vision
of integrity, academic excellence, brotherhood,
service to community and commitment to the
highest ideals of Greek Life," then stop recruit-
ing people who need to be taught how to act
like decent people.
Jon Schwartz can be reached

Divestment not in line with 'U' tobacco precedent

I am a professor in the Law School. I also
happen to be the person who chaired the com-
mittee that two years ago issued a report recom-
mending that the University of Michigan divest
its holdings in tobacco companies. In recent
wgks I have been following with considerable
interest the public debate over the question of
whether this university and other universities
should adopt a similar policy with respect to
companies doing business in Israel.
It is my understanding that, according to
President Coleman, the University has no plans
to pursue a divestment policy in this context.
Speaking only for myself (and not for the tobac-
co divestment committee or for the Law School
or for any other group), I think President Cole-
man is right. And let me say briefly why.
It is the University's policy (a policy that I
strongly endorse) that decisions to divest should
be extraordinarily rare. The primary purpose of
the endowment is to generate as much income
as possible to support the missions of the Uni-
versity, which consist primarily of teaching,
research, and service. The purpose of the
endowment, therefore, is not generally to serve
as a device for making political, ideological, or
philosophical statements.
The reason for this general policy is obvious:
It would be virtually impossible for the Univer-
sity to maintain an "ethically pure" investment
portfolio. Most, perhaps all, corporations are
engaged in some activity (or do business in
some country) that one or another constituency
within the University would find objectionable.
Many companies produce excessive pollution,

engage in unacceptable employment practices,
and many make products that cause injury or ill-
ness. And many companies have operations in
countries around the world with horrendous
human rights records. The normal avenue for
expressing concerns about such issues will and
should be the political process. For the Universi-
ty to try to hold only the stocks and bonds of
companies that are ethically pure by everyone's
standards would be impossible.
As everyone knows, of course, the Universi-
ty has twice in its history made exceptions to
this general investment policy. In 1978 the Uni-
versity Board of Regents voted to divest from
companies doing business in South Africa, and
then again in 2000 they voted to divest from
tobacco companies.
Thus, it is also the University's policy to
divest in certain rare circumstances. As articulat-
ed in the tobacco committee's report, that stan-
dard can be summarized as follows: Divestment
will be appropriate only when owning securities
in the companies in question would be the core
missions of the University. For those who wish
to see how that very strict standard was applied
in the tobacco context, I refer you to the com-
mittee's report, which can be found at the fol-
lowing web address: http://www.umich.edu/
So what about the Israel question? Here I
must confess that I am not an expert in Middle
Eastern,politics or in international human
rights generally. I teach and write in the areas
of tax law, insurance law and products liability
law. What expertise I have that is relevant to
the divestment question involves my research
on tobacco litigation and tobacco regulation.

Therefore, although I can speak with some
authority on what sets the tobacco industry
apart from other industries for special treat-
ment, my knowledge of the practices of the
Israeli government and, for that matter, my
knowledge of the South Africa example is no
better than that of any other reasonably well-
informed faculty member.
Given those caveats, however, this is not a
close case. The significant questions are, in
effect, whether Israel, from a human rights
perspective, is (a) the worst offender in the
world and (b) so much worse than every other
country that holding securities in companies
doing business there is antithetical to the core
missions of the University. The answer to both
questions is clearly no. One can certainly dis-
agree strongly and quite 'reasonably' with
many of the policies and actions of the Israeli
government. But that is true about virtually
any country in the world, including our own.
Whatever wrongs Israel may have committed
must be placed in context, context that
includes its entire record in the human rights
area. One does not need to be an expert in
human rights to know that Israel's record is far
from the worst in the world.
If we are to consider whether there are
nations whose record is so bad that holding
securities in companies doing business there is
antithetical to the core missions of the Universi-
ty - a project that I do not necessarily regard
as advisable - there are candidates much better
to consider than Israel.


Logue is a professor ofLaw.


Daily would be wise to keep
reporters' opinions out of
its government stories
I dug your front page article on Friday
Partisan support drives Democratic majority,

brilliant idea will require the start of con-
struction of the new 'Y' a few blocks away.
During your interview did you bother to ask
the members of the Democratic Council
how many times they rejected those con-
struction plans? They've been breast-feed-
ing that baby going on five years now. Last
I heard, the project is still "under review"
and I certainly haven't yet seen any stu-

whack-a-mole? Olga's has been vacant for
what, seven years now?
It sure is great that the University and
Pfizer shelter Ann Arbor from the fallout of
its own poor business sense. Their apparent
lack of accountability coupled with dumb-
luck keeps me voting Democratic and helps
me sleep soundly with that vote. Yet come
one night soon, the harsh economic reality

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