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February 19, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-19

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 19, 2004


U0 ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
opinion. michigandaily.com


SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
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.

I am watching very
carefully, but I am
troubled by what I've
-President Bush, expressing concern
that homosexuals are committing their
love for one another by marrying in San
Francisco, as reported yesterday by The
Associated Press.


* ,
4 -F


.1 a.





Street fighting man - who needs cops anyway?

. '

y «f

y now it's obvious,
but it needs to be
said: The members
of the Ann Arbor Police
.V Department and the
Department of Public
Safety should all be arrest-
ed for impersonating offi-
cers. They drive around in
cruisers and wear blue uni-
forms. They stick white envelopes on the hood
of your car. They'll even drag you off the side-
walk if you're carrying a cup at night. But when
it comes to keeping the peace - and that is their
real title, peace officers - they're just show-
cops: They show up and then they cop out.
In my years at the University, I've seen offi-
cers harass homeless people, tell a harmless
nonstudent to leave University property immedi-
ately and interrogate a guy named Silver
because he had a "street" appearance. I've seen
them stalk parties for young drinkers, empty
wallets looking for fake IDs, enter houses unan-
nounced. I've seen the inside of a cop car, with
its computer dashboard and its plastic partition
- I know how many seconds it takes for a
court-date to print from their machine and how
many months it takes to clear your record.
And I've seen them ruin Ann Arbor tradi-
tions, breaking up block parties before they
even started and ducking the heads of naked,
cuffed runners into cop cars - police pres-
sure took the Naked Mile down from 800
participants to a couple dozen in two years'
time. I don't know what it is, but there is
something about a peaceful student celebra-
tion that a cop just can't stand.
And sadly, those are the good points,
because those are the times when the cops
were around, as unwanted as they were. At
other times, like the frat brawl earlier this

week, students have called officers for help and
found that no one really cares. They've discov-
ered that the one time we do want to see a cop,
the cops don't want to see us.
The past week's happenings weren't just a
fluke. AAPD Sgt. Tom Seyfried's statement
that the fight was "childish nonsense" wasn't
just one man shooting his mouth off. It is part
of a policy to ignore students' pleas for help,
to regard serious callers as tattlers with no
backbone. Noise complaints, drinkers under
21 - those call for immediate action. But a
fight? It will blow over.
I had a run-in like this in the early fall,
when my house had an open-house party.
Some wrestlers from down the street had
stolen food from our pantry, and when one of
my friends confronted them, five or six guys
dragged him into the driveway, punching and
kicking him. They all split, but the biggest of
them returned a few minutes later with a
friend, and then the fight really started. The
big guy could take on anybody. He had been
kicked off the team, so he didn't need to stay
below any weight class. He head-butted. Hon-
estly, who head-butts? A Native American
neighbor - a nonviolent type who owns his
grandfather's peace pipe - asked, "What are
you guys fighting about?" and was thrown
onto a car's hood, his nose broken and blood-
ied. A few black neighbors came to our back
and were promptly greeted by a word the
wrestler must have learned from his parents.
More punches, biting, etc. It went on like this
forever. After forever, there were hospital vis-
its. It was, in general, not a good night.
Somewhere along the line, the girls next
door called the cops, but they only showed
up after it was done. A cop car had been
stalking the house all night during the party,
prowling for MIPs. At times, two or three

were parked on the street. But during the
fight they were in stealth mode, lest anyone
know they exist.
The cops said they couldn't bring charges
unless we gave them names, and when we gave
them names, they gave some other excuse.
Later, a cop at the hospital had to ask for the
whole story again and again - the earlier cops
hadn't told him anything. Eventually, a report
was filed, but nothing came of it.
Of course, it's not manly to rely on cops
when you should be able to bust someone's head
yourself. That is the ethos that prevails among
students at 3 a.m. But strangely, it's the police's
attitude too. I don't like the idea of police keep-
ing everything under lockdown - in fact I don't
like police at all. But if they only did one thing,
shouldn't it be to solve violent conflicts? Michi-
gan students comprise a transient urban popula-
tion with hardly any social bonds. On top of
that, there are people like the wrestler who are
mentally deficient, inherently violent and here
on scholarship - it only takes one scholarship
revocation to make Friday night turn ugly.
Ultimately this is more than just a criti-
cism of the police. It's about all the
enabling parties who keep assholes around
at this university. I admit, sometimes I have
the romantic notion of violence against
institutions in order to save the individual.
It's a fairly harmless idea, much more artis-
tic and literary than it is practical. But there
are certain types - the frat brawlers, the
drunken wrestlers - who use our institu-
tions as cover for violence against individu-
als. If the police don't want to stop them,
then they shouldn't fake it. People ought to
understand that they're on their own.

Cotner can be reached at


Vietnam War key point in
student activism of 1960s
I appreciated the Friday Focus article last
week, (Birth of a Student Movement, 02/13/04)
on the early years of Students for a Democratic
Society at the University. For the sake of histori-
cal accuracy, I would like to emphasize a point
inadvertently left out in the comments attributed
to me. My argument that political activism on
campus today is more widespread than "in the
days of SDS" should have included this qualifi-
cation: before the escalation of the Vietnam War
in the mid-1960s. In the Port Huron Statement
of 1962, SDS observed that "we are a minority
... we ourselves are imbued with urgency, yet
the message of our society is that there is no
viable alternative to the present." The organiza-
tion then included fewer than 1,000 members,
but the Vietnam War turned SDS into a mass
movement. By 1968 membership reached near-
ly 100,000, and about 10 percent of all college
students defined themselves as "political radi-
cals." Recognizing the centrality of the Vietnam

War is essential to understanding the outpouring
of campus activism in the late 1960s and early
1970s, and I believe that the failure to empha-
size this context often leads to problematic and
distorted comparisons between a "politicized"
'60s generation and an "apathetic" current
youth generation.
Assistant history professor
City officials need to re-think
anti-pedestrian outlooks
I was disappointed to read the anti-pedestri-
an bias of University and city officials in the
Daily story Jaywalking causes greater concern
since student deaths (02/17/04).
In a city where many residents choose not to
drive or own a car, it is not only fundamentally
unfair but degrading to expect pedestrians to
scurry squirrel-like across heavily-trafficked
streets to get to the Union, class, the supermar-
ket or to their church, temple or mosque.

Autos and pedestrians should share the road,
and city officials should install well-marked,
raised and lit crosswalks at places where many
pedestrians cross the street: on South University,
on Madison Street in front of South Quad and
on Plymouth Road, among others.
When there is a glut of automobile traffic,
city officials seem to jump to rectify the situa-
tion. When there is a glut of pedestrian traffic,
city officials frequently blame the pedestrians
for not walking far out of their way to get to
their destination, something rarely expected of
automobile drivers.
Yes, Ann Arbor Police Department Lt. Mike
Logghe is correct: Impatient pedestrians jay-
walking are a problem. However, in my view
impatient motorists are a more serious problem,
whether running red or yellow lights or, in an
incident last week, pulling over to slap a fellow
motorist who was driving "too slowly." City
officials should understand they can minimize
jaywalking by installing more crosswalks and
increasing the crossing time on "walk" lights.
LSA senior
The letter writer is a former Daily staff writer


Non-tenured faculty unite! LEO rising

In the past 30 years, the share of faculty
appointments that are "nontenure-track," and
the share of undergraduate teaching provided by
such faculty, has increased dramatically, at the
University and across the country. Nationally,
96 percent of all new faculty appointments were
tenure-track in 1969; by the 1990s, only 50 per-
cent were tenure-track, and only half of these
positions were full-time.
The declining share of tenure appointments
in U.S. colleges and universities is mirrored by
the growing share of nontenure-track (NTT)
appointments. Many of us in this category have
part-time appointments, but adding all such
teaching into the equivalent of full-time posi-
tions, there were less than 500 NTT "full-time
equivalents" at the University in 1991; by the
winter 2001 term, the number had doubled.
There are now close to 2,000 NTT faculty on
the three campuses of the University. We do
about half of all undergrad teaching on the Flint

Over the last two years, NTT faculty at the
University have formed a vibrant, democratic
union called the Lecturer Employees' Organiza-
tion. A top priority in this, our first round of col-
lective bargaining, is real job security for NTT
faculty who demonstrate their skill at, and com-
mitment to, teaching. At present, we do not even
have the kind of continuous employment
enjoyed by most University staff, who have an
ongoing job unless they are fired or laid off due
to insufficient demand. Instead, we are hired for
fixed periods - often no more than a single
term, though it can be for as much as five years.
Even after years of service, we can be terminat-
ed by the simple expedient of failing to renew
our contracts. No reasons need be given for
such a decision, even if the person in question
has served the University with distinction for
many years. This is not a far-fetched "nightmare
scenario." In the last year, LEO members with
many years of experience at the University have
lost their jobs in this way in the English Depart-
ments of Ann Arbor and Flint and in the School
of Art and Design.
Tl .TT .....:i ,.,-.. ..F..i . o ~ 4,,

commensurate with our contribution.
Despite the weakness of its arguments, the
administration is refusing to move very far from
the existing short-term contract system. There
is a lot at stake. Not only justice for our own
members, but also the fate of academic freedom
is at issue. Tenure was created in this country
decades ago to enable faculty to "speak truth"
as they understand it to their students and to the
powerful, without fearing that they will be
deprived of their jobs. Today, at a time when our
social problems are deepening and our policies
more than ever need intelligent, critical scrutiny,
the scope of real academic freedom is narrow-
ing as the share of the faculty that has any real
job security falls below half.
Our students and citizens deserve better than
this, particularly from a public university that
derives a large share of its funding from the
tuition paid by those students and the taxes paid
by Michigan residents. We intend to do what it
takes to ensure that the University sets a positive
national example in this aspect of its operations,
as it has done with respect to affirmative action.



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