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September 07, 2004 - Image 28

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4

4B - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2004

COMMENTARY

Liberals behaving badly

DANIEL ADAMS SPITTING INTO'

THE WIND

MARCH 31, 2004

The activist group
commonly referred
to as BAMN has
developed quite a reputation
for itself on campus.
Despised by the Right and
ostracized by the main-
stream Left, BAMN is clear-
ly a group that has alienated
itself from the majority of
the student body.
Its platform isn't the problem. In fact, many
students, as well as most University administra-
tors, support its key positions on affirmative
action and race-based admissions policies. The
problem is its tactics. Its members are loud,
obnoxious and clearly aren't interested in dia-
logue. Often, individuals with a different point of
view are just shouted down, or worse, called
racist. Simply put, BAMN is just offensive.
Groups like BAMN illustrate clearly the con-
sequences of advocating for the right issues in
entirely the wrong way. The issues lose an other-
wise important voice, and people ignore an oth-
erwise important point of view.
When I heard that there was a new student
group on campus, Student Voices in Action, I
was excited. In response to the proposed cuts to
several key student services, SVA coordinated
large student protests on the Diag and outside
the Fleming Administration Building. Shocking-
ly, they had a coherent message. They oppose
the changes to the Sexual Assault Prevention and
Awareness Center. They oppose funding cuts to
the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-

gender Affairs. They want Trotter House to
finally get the funding to renovate. They demand
increased student representation at the adminis-
trative level. Check, check and check. To top it
off, they have a great slogan: "Royster cut stu-
dent services and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
I was so excited, my little liberal heart started
going pitter-patter.
Then they broke it in two.
After meeting with several of their organiz-
ers, I realized that some of their other assertions
range from the highly debatable to the complete-
ly outrageous. They claim the University isn't
committed to diversity, despite a multi-year,
multi-million dollar defense of its race-conscious
admission policies. They want the University to
give students more than a say in the administra-
tive process, with veto power, yes, veto power,
over decisions regarding student affairs.
Then, they took this questionable wish list
and went on the offensive - and did it as offen-
sively as possible. They demanded a meeting
with University President Mary Sue Coleman at
the Trotter House, at you guessed it, 12 o'clock
- high noon. Coleman came as requested to
meet with the activists. Apparently, the conversa-
tion went something like this:
SVA: We demand these things.
Coleman: Well, that's a complica ...
SVA: We demand yes or no answers.
Coleman: I wish you'd let me answ ...
SVA: Yes or no.
Funny, not a damn thing came out of the
meeting.
SVA member Clair Morrissey had this to

say regarding the event: "It's important to
engage in the kind of dialogue we did today. I
would have hoped the administrators were
more open to listening."
Listening? They interrupted and shouted
their demands over the president of a major uni-
versity who had amicably agreed to meet with
their group. Dialogue? If that is SVA's definition
of dialogue, they're in worse trouble than I
thought.
It's true that the University has been stalling
on these issues for years. It is understandable
that many in SVA are frustrated that it's taken so
long to get heard by the University. But that only
makes the events that occurred on Monday all
the more tragic - that provided with the long-
awaited opportunity to discuss and advocate for
their issues, they instead chose the tactics of des-
perate and frustrated men and women. That's
just not how you get things done - that's how
you get marginalized and ignored. It sounds to
me as if SVA, like so many other contemporary
student movements, just doesn't have the
patience to barter with the administration. Now
Fleming, justifiably offended by their tactics,
probably won't listen to them. Summer will
come. SVA will probably die, and along with
them, any momentum that could have been car-
ried into the fall.
The student body will get screwed.
And all we'll have to show for it will be the
lousy T-shirts.
Adams can be reached at
dnadams@umich.edu.

A

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

SVA calls students to unite,
hold admin. accountable
TO THE DAILY:
April 1, 2004 -
In response to Monday's editorial (Taking
on Fleming, 03/29/04), Student Voices in
Action would like to clarify several points.
The Daily's assertion that a decline in stu-
dent of color recruitment, admittance and
enrollment is "highly speculative" is simi-
larly contentious. The numbers released by
the University's administration indicate a
serious problem with our recruitment meth-
ods. Further, the University has cut student
services designed to educate the student
body and create a safe space for marginal-
ized communities. Public perception of a
truly diverse campus climate is contingent
upon the University's commitment to these
services.
Additionally, the Daily finds the idea of
creating a student oversight committee with
veto power as part of the Division of Stu-
dent Affairs "laughable." However, students
pay an exorbitantly high price to attend the
University with little agency in determining
where these funds are allocated. Silencing
our voices precludes the expectation of stu-
dent participation ini civic life. Students
must actively reclaim their role in the deci-
sion-making process and demand an institu-
tionalized mechanism through which to
make sure said ill-informed, devastating
administrative action and inaction does not
occur in the future.
SVA fully comprehends the complexity
of the issues at hand. With respect to finan-
cial concerns and facts, the administration
could help us by responding to our multiple
Freedom of Information Act requests filed
to obtain statements of the University's
budgets for the upcoming year. However,
the University has stalled and refused to
provide the requested information for six
months to date.
This noncompliance is indicative of a
long history of the administration's consis-
tent disregard for student needs. These
issues affect the entire student body as an
exemplification of the University's usage of
student tuition without real student input.
The only way to increase University
accountability and secure the student voice
is to come together in solidarity and sup-
port. We call on the student body to recog-
nize this and raise its voice in demanding
that the University listen.
STUDENT VOICES IN ACTION

Adams wrong; SVA's
demands met with hot air
To THE DAILY:
April 1, 2004 -
I find it ironic that Dan Adams feels it neces-
sary to accuse me and my colleagues in Student
Voices in Action of behaving badly when he fails
to live up to even the most minimal standards of
journalistic integrity (Liberals behaving badly,
03/31/04). The accusations he makes are based
on hearsay and secondhand information, as he
has never seen the demands drafted by SVA, nor
did he attend the meeting between SVA and Uni-
versity President Mary Sue Coleman on Mon-
day, March 29.
As someone who was actually in attendance
and who has actually seen the demands, I
would like to clarify a few points. Most impor-
tantly, this meeting was never intended to be a
discussion. Coleman was asked, and agreed to,
publicly respond to the demands presented to
her by SVA on March 25. The moderators of
Monday's meeting attempted to systematically
go through the demands in order for Coleman
to have the opportunity to respond to each of
them individually. The demands were met with
either wishy-washy noncommitments or
patronizing replies, such as being told that "a
little taskforce" could be created to look into
issues as grave as the drop in underrepresented
minority group admissions rates.
Finally, Adams' implication that institutional-
ly marginalized groups within our University
and American society have this status because of
their impatience and inability to communicate
with persons in positions of power is offensive,
as well as sexist, racist and heterosexist. I would
hope that someone who prides himself on pos-
sessing a "liberal" heart would take time to gain
a more robust understanding of the issues of
power and privilege.
CLAIR MORRISSEY
LSA senior
SVA member
Student Voices in Action
sends mixed messages
To THE DAILY:
April 6, 2004 -
I consider myself a liberal and believe that
many of the ideals held by Student Voices in
Action do hold promise for the University com-
munity. In my opinion, the idea of a student
committee participating in administrative deci-
sions can only help to create an academic

atmosphere that further allows students' needs
to be met and input to be encouraged. I find its
request to the University to investigate the prob-
lem of minority admissions to be not only
appropriate, but commendable. However,
despite my agreement with SVA's goals, it is its
tactics that bother me. By continuing its trend of
overly aggressive demands, SVA turns a possi-
bly productive relationship between student;
and the administration into an adversarial one
This also seems to hold true for its relationshir
with the student body itself. Despite its call foi
action, SVA seems to attack the exact same stu-
dents it asks for support if they disagree witlh
any element of the organization. This irony was
made explicitly apparent in a letter to the edito,
(SVA calls students to unite, hold admin.
accountable, 04/01/04). On one side of the sec-
tion, SVA had written a passionate letter to stu-
dents in which it calls on the student body tc
"raise its voice in demanding that the University
listen." However, this "call" for student partici-
pation was immediately followed by a letter by
SVA member Clair Morrissey attacking the rep-
utation of Dan Adams for disagreeing witl
some of the group's goals and platforms. While
Morrissey has every right to confront any
aspects of Adams' article she felt were unfair oi
incorrect (Liberals behaving badly, 03/31/04)
her personal attacks on Adams' character were
completely inappropriate and uncalled for. She
says Adams' disagreement with the tactics of a
University group is an underlying sign of
Adams being "sexist, racist and heterosexist." I
was appalled to see someone seek to brand a
person with such a vile, disgusting reputatior
based on an extremely broad and incorrect inter-
pretation of their ideas. Adams said nothing o
marginalized groups in society being considerec
such because of their "impatience and inability
to communicate with persons of power." Hi.
original article instead suggested that marginal-
ized organizations on campus could not accom-
plish their goals because of their extreme
tactics, a point only further demonstrated by
Morrisey's response. Is this SVA's approach tc
any student who disagrees with the group's cho-
sen tactics? Does Morrissey fail to realize
Adams himself is part of the student body from
whom her organization claims to ask for sup-
port? Her response only showed me that while
SVA wants the aid of students' voices, it seems
to be completely opposed to listening to them. I
encourage SVA to take part in the same produc-
tive dialogue it demands from administrators
with students who have minor disagreements
with their organization. Perhaps then, a unitec
voice can be actually realized.
JOSHUA SLEDGI
Business junior

I

The creative destruction of youth
ZAC PESKOWITZ THE LOWER FREQUENCIES FEBRUARY 9,2004

SAM BUTLER THE SOAPBOX

APRIL 2, 2004

orty years ago
today, the Beatles
made the first of
four historic perform-
'sances on "The Ed Sulli-
van Show." This, the
arbiters of culture
would say after clearing
their collective throats,
was a moment when
"to be young was very heaven." We, on the
other hand, have not been so fortunate,
according to those lucky Baby Boomers. We
are soft and fat, occupied by fleeting con-
cerns or no concerns at all. We are weak and
malleable; they were strong and pioneering.
Despite the best efforts of the Boomers to
infect us with viral marketing, make us
"tip" toward the latest trend, fashion or fad
and use assorted schemes to make our lives
utterly miserable, twentysomethings once
again deserve a positive mention on those
Arli oatru New Var's "Tn" and "Out" lists.

it's the millions of Iranians who are under
25. When more than 70 percent of a coun-
try's population is younger than 25, politi-
cians have to maintain a wary eye on the
whims of youth at all times. This is a partic-
ular concern in a nation where many young
people have sought out space for creativity
in the form of novel genres of music, blogs
and, in many cases, a revolutionary posture
toward the state. While Iran's Guardian
Council bans reform candidates from run-
ning in parliamentary elections and the gov-
ernment arrests student leaders, this
burgeoning youth movement ensures that
the quest for "personal space" will continue.
The age of youth isn't just limited to
regions with exploding population growth.
Japan stands out as an example of youth
seizing control of a nation's culture and
injecting it with a sense of urgency and rele-
vance. While most of Japan has experienced
a decade of ennui and drift, the "gross
national onl" asnciated with the nation's

The kids exist to change culture. They are
the only ones who can. They are the ones
who create new ways of solving problems,
new values and new systems of conduct.
Forty years after the Beatles were beamed
into the living rooms of 73 million Ameri-
cans, these lessons have been eclipsed by
the Baby Boomers' celebration of them-
selves. It wasn't always this way. There was
recently a time when Wired magazine, the
dot-coins and the citizens of Generation X
were going to take over the world or, at the
very least, the networks of information
which would eventually control it. Angry
Boomers sneered at their successes. Of
course, these brash young upstarts were
hubristic, decadent and arrogant, but they
had some great ideas.
In his memoir "A Heartbreaking Work of
Staggering Genius," Dave Eggers, one of
the iconic symbols of this brief era, recounts
how his fledgling magazine ran a glowing
nrnfileo f the fonnder of Teach For America.

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