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November 11, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-11

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 11, 2002

OP/ED

G~be Aili~atn itaiI

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
letters@fnichigandaily.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
t"The guy is funny, smart,
and sometimes shocking.
Those are all things I look
for in rock 'n' roll."
- Author Stephen King on Eminem, in a
Sunday London Times article pegging
Eminem as the new Elvis.

SAM IBUTLER 'THiF SOAxsOX
~1S 1
ur U ; d mc- v
-V-ti e c m c4. Y A4

a

Anti-War Action is a new orga-.
nization on campus focusing
on building a coalition against
the possibility of war in Iraq. The group,
started by College of Literature, Science
and Arts sophomore Max Sussman and
LSA junior Mike Medow has members
from many progressive alliances on
campus and from greater Ann Arbor.
One thing many people agreed on at
AWA's first mass meeting was that the
group should not be distracted by other
issues that may divide the coalition. The
Israel/Palestine debate is one possible
issue that could interfere, as AWA has
members in both the Progressive Israel
Alliance as well as the American-Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee and
Muslim Students Association, along
with other organizations who take a
political stance on the topic.
Keeping the focus of the organiza-
tion on the war in Iraq is a noble
endeavor; however, some members of
the ADC and MSA don't think so.
While AWA meetings have tried to stay
focused on the issue at hand, ADC and
MSA members have constantly tried to
force anti-Israel sentiment into the
group. At the first meeting when leader
Max Sussman suggested that AWA
should stay focused on the issue, an
ADC member immediately interjected
that in order to be against the war, one
has to be against Israel.
First of all, this is a patently false and
intellectually bankrupt assertion. Sec-
ondly, this is highly damaging to the
potential influence AWA could have on
the issue of the anti-war movement as a
whole. Historical evidence shows that
divisive, secondary issues have killed
progressive movements in the past,
causing excessive infighting, stealing

energy away from the main issue. Such
behavior could do the same to anti-war
movement, something the ADC and the
MSA hopefully wish not to do, but
unfortunately, their insistence on forcing
the Israel/Palestine issue on AWA is dis-
turbingly reminiscent of the divisive tac-
tics FBI infiltrators used in the 1960s to
break the power of groups such as Stu-
dents for a Democratic Society and the
Black Panthers.
Furthermore, AWA is faced with
other groups trying to push more far-
fetched agendas, also taking away focus
from the war. For example, some mem-
bers of Students for Choice want the
group to state that the war is anti-femi-
nist because women who serve in the
military are unable to get abortions in
countries where they may be stationed,
like Saudi Arabia. This argument is
hardly a legitimate primary case against
war, and indirectly implies that to be
against the war one must be pro-choice.
This is not only untrue but such a view-
point will stifle the inclusivity of AWA.
AWA has the potential to revive what
Ann Arbor's anti-Vietnam movement
left in the 1970s. It may be able to bring
together organizations and individuals
that do not normally agree to stand
against the one thing they all believe is
unjust. But the behavior of such organi-
zations and individuals that come with
intention of pushing their own agendas
is selfish and inappropriate and will be
the largest roadblock for the anti-war
movement to succesfully traverse.
The AWA leaders were right to
encourage that members remained
focused on the war; hopefully its
members will realize that such a strat-
egy is the most effective and prag-
matic way to build a movement.

The stories that reporters tell
PETER CUNNIFFE ONE FOR THE ROAD

6

Last week's big
news was the his-
toric and largely
unexpected gains in Con-
gress by a party holding
the presidency. The story
leading up to the election
was of a divided elec-
torate, toss-up races that
could fall either way and
localized elections being decided on
parochial issues. By Wednesday morning, the
story had changed though.
Now it was a national election, a ringing
endorsement of the campaigner-in-chief and
an electorate that had become decidedly
Republican. Suddenly what the Democratic
Party had been doing - which few had previ-
ously raised any warning signals about - was
tisk tisked by all as terrible strategy. Of course,
there are many explanations for why elections
turn out the way they do. A few days earlier
Democrats were doing much better in the polls
than they were right before election day and
the election probably would have turned out
quite differently depending on the exact date it
was held. Republican boosters certainly
desired and promoted this outcome, but the
consensus, even among them, was far more
uncertain. But now, according to the newly
hatched conventional wisdom, spouted with
such harrumphing surety by the reporter/pun-
dits, we know exactly what happened. Democ-
rats didn't advance a credible alternative
message and got mauled by a president who
appealed to voters fearful of an uncertain
world and trusting of someone who was at
least sure about what he wanted to do.
The other notable political story of the past
few weeks was the memorial service for the

late senator Paul Wellstone. Not many people
watched it outside of Minnesota; the only
place you could have caught it was C-SPAN. I
did see it and what I remember most about it
was the family members and friends of Well-
stone staffers who had died with him standing
up and telling stories about their lives. I cer-
tainly remember the two speakers who exhort-
ed the crowd to help elect Democrats, but that
was hardly the substance of the event. The
conservative press turned it into a political
story though. And within days, the service was
portrayed in the national news as nothing but a
pep rally; just an example of how crassly
Democrats will exploit anything to win. Dri-
ven by the Fox News/Wall Street Journal axis,
the conservative spin was soon how the event
was generally understood.
These two stories make clear that news
conveys a lot more than just what happened.
When an anchor or a commentator tells their
audience about something, they tell a story.
Raw facts can be boring and sometimes just
plain incomprehensible without context so, to
keep people interested, they are packaged in a
story-line for easier digestion. This is so com-
mon that we hardly ever make note of it, but
how a story is told has a substantial effect on
what people take away from it.
There are different ways to tell these sto-
ries. Most news organizations - as the post-
election promotion of the "Democrat's had no
message" story-line and the earlier "divided
electorate" story-line demonstrate - try to do
this by wrapping a plausible, often fairly sim-
plistic, and widely accepted explanation around
the facts. Another way, as the Wellstone story
highlights, is for news organizations to deliber-
ately give meanings they choose to events; to
try to create the widely accepted interpretation

that others will adopt. The difference is easy to
miss, but isn't at all subtle.
The election story tried to explain what
happened. In the Wellstone story, pieces of an
event were discussed in isolation from the
whole to create a politically useful caricature.
This has been a complaint of conservatives for
years; that the media distort everything they
do. But conservatives dominate news spinning
these days. An entire news channel devoted to
promoting the conservative take on everything
- whose anchors always look like they're
about to burst. into laughter when they say,
"fair and balanced" - talk radio dominance,
private and industry funded foundations
churning out conservative pseudo-scholarship
and an expansive right wing publishing sector
give incredible weight to their spin on any
event. Not to mention the equal time conserva-
tives are given in regular news outlets to voice
their views. Do liberals spin news like this?
For whatever reason (lack of money, nagging
ethical concerns) they have never reached that
level, but they do as much as they can. News
really is biased. Most often the bias is toward
simplistic explanations that discount or just
ignore other possibilities.
Frequently though, the stories aren't just
trying to explain, but trying to promote; push-
ing a view in hopes that other news outlets and
the public will buy into it. This hardly com-
ports with journalistic ethics, but the useful-
ness of these methods is clear and they will
only grow. Just remember that things are sel-
dom as simple as they sound and that news
stories do far more than just report the news.

Peter Cunniffe can be reached
atpcunn'f@umich.edu.

Bye-bye early decision
Other colleges should follow Yale and Stanford

yale University announced last
Wednesday that it will be aban-
doning its controversial early
decision application system beginning
with next year's admission cycle. Stan-
ford University went public with the
same policy change in its own admis-
sions office later the same day. Early
decision admissions is a program where
graduating high school seniors are
allowed to apply early to a single col-
lege or university and find out by mid-
December whether they have been
rejected, accepted or deferred until later.
If accepted, students who apply through
the early decision program are required
to commit to attending the university
they applied to. Other schools should
follow Yale and Stanford's decision.
Initially, Yale had intended to con-
ference with all the Ivy League schools
to discuss the possibility of having the
entire Ivy League sack the early deci-
sion program at the same time. Yale
scrapped that idea after hearing news
that the justice department might view
such a meeting as anti-competitive.
Stanford had not been planning on
publicly disclosing their policy change
until a later date, but decided to follow
suit after Yale's announcement on
Wednesday morning. Both schools are
planning on replacing early decision
with early action admissions, a similar
process in which students apply early
and hear back from the university by
mid-December. but would not be
bound to attend.

There are a number of reasons to
commend this decision, and a number
of reasons why other selective institu-
tions would be right to follow suit. First,
one impact of the decision will be much
to the benefit of poorer students. Under
the early decision program, when stu-
dents were required to attend the first
institution they apply to if they are
accepted, their ability to get financial
aid was hampered when they could not
see what packages other schools might
offer. Relieving the burden of early
commitment opens up more possibili-
ties in this regard.
The program, while working for the
benefit of those students who quickly
decide which college or university they
want to attend, can be arduous for stu-
dents who have not yet made up their
minds about where to attend college,
but who nevertheless want to start
applying early. Without early decision
programs, those students would be free
to send in an early application and con-
tinue to investigate other options.
Without early decisions, students
would be more encouraged to decide
where to attend college based on the
types of academic programs that a given
university has, and not based on a strate-
gy of applying early just to get into a
reputable school. The quality of educa-
tion at any school will be much greater
to everyone involved if students are
attending based on their academic inter-
ests and not on a sense of binding com-
mitment.

VIEWPOINT
MSA elections bring shame on entire University
BY DAVID GOLANTY blackboard. Let the candidates and their par- a student government, that is elected by fewer
ties spend the time wasted in making this than 25 percent of the eligible voters does not
For an institution of higher education that campus look like a Jackson Pollock night- truly represent the student population and
prides itself on producing active and aware mare on talking to the students, telling them therefore has little grounds for making any
students, in a nation where the right to vote where they stand, and finding out their opin- proposals on the population's behalf. It is the
has been sought after, fought for and died ions. That process is not substantially com- responsibility of the governed as well as the
for, the farce that is known as student gov- pleted by the one random dorm-room visit individuals running to ensure that the govern-
ernment elections brings shame and disgrace one to two days prior to the election. ment is elected based on an accurate represen-
on this entire university. That the majority of On a campus this large I realize how diffi- tation of the best interests of the people. If
candidates feel as though the students' votes cult it is to get students to know who a candi- candidates state positions on their posters and
require little else than a catchy name or slo- date is and remember that name for elections students do not read them, that's the students'
gan insults every member of the student - truly I understand what all the posters are fault. If they advertise their websites and each
body. This is a way to choose snack foods, about. However, what stops a candidate from individual candidate has their positions stated
not representatives. Students both running putting more than just a name and goofy pic- there and the students do not go to that site,
and voting have to realize that when a poster ture on a poster? I have seen a few students students' fault. If there is a booth setup or per-
says, "VOTE!" it is not a command, but who put down their plans for government on son speaking on the Diag about what they
rather a request. Until the candidates realize that very sign which also contained their name plan to do in office and how and students turn
this, I think that the entire student population and photo. Some of them I agree with, others a deaf ear, again, students' fault. But when
should abstain from voting. Let the farce be not, but at least I was given the choice as to pointless papers cling to educational facility
carried to its maximum and let the govern- whose ideas are going to best represent and walls, when multi-colored chalk dust spells
ment be based on nothing but name recogni- reflect my best interests as a student. Knowing nothing but names and government posts,
tion - not even the support of the that a student's last name happens to coincide when slogans of some variation on "choose
constituency. with a celebrity's or rhymes with "is a win- me" might as well be connected to a beer
I understand that this idea is drastic and ner," does not aid me in deciding whether or commercial as to a candidate, it is the stu-
frowned upon, but I know how valuable my not that student is a good leader with fresh dents' right and I would argue the students'
vote is, and I refuse to give it freely to a ideas dedicated to making this school better. duty not to surrender their precious vote to
name I see scribbled in chalk as I walk Even the mud slinging television ads of the partake in a system which obviously cares
through the recently aesthetically depredated recent midterm elections at least said some- very little about whether or not they are fairly
sidewalks on my way to a meaningless- thing about the views and positions of the represented.
poster lined hallway leading to my neon fly- government hopefuls.
ered seat in front of the slogan cluttered The simple fact is that a government, even Golanty is an LSAjunior.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Do MSA parties even have a ple selecting will know what they're doing
JIM SUITS
platform? Posters are what LSA freshman
seem to be focus of campaigns
Community should applaud
'' for self-imposed sanctions

10 THE VAILY:
CallDme a naive little freshman, but
walking around campus this week, I see
blue and orange posters covering walls,
imploring me vote "Blue" or "Sl." Just
about every square inch (6.4516 square cm)
of sidewalk is occupied with a chalk adver-
tisement for one of these groups. Do these
groups have a platform? Right now, it
looks to me like there's some kind of
behind-the-scenes competition to see who
can spend the most money on posters that
cnntain little more than the name of some-

TO THE DAILY:
I whole-heartedly agree with all of those
who are protesting that the punishments
imposed by the University are unfair to
current basketball players and staffers who
weren't even around when the wrongdoing
was committed. Nevertheless, I understand
and approve of the self-imposed sanctions.
The reason is simple: if we hadn't done it,
the NCAA would have anyway. By doing
some of these things voluntarily, President

Boycotters' claims without
merit, protesters just
want to be 'more equal'
To THE DAILY:
I really think many of the claims of
"ethnic insensitivity" are without merit.
Honestly, the fact that the Daily will meet
with those boycotting impresses me. I hope
that the Daily doesn't change a thing
because of the boycott. This campus is
ultra culturally sensitive enough as it is. I
love the Daily; it is obvious that intelligent
minds work hard on it. If people don't want
to read it because they have some issues
with it, fine with me. That just means that
when I go to the stand after noon, it will

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