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December 03, 2004 - Image 1

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-03

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Friday, December 3, 2004
News 3 SOLE renews protests
of 'U' labor practices
Opinion 4 Sam Singer on East-
West alliance
Sports 11 Notre Dame a must-
win for cagers

One-hundredfourteen years ofedaorzlfreedom

2004 The Michigan Daily

- - - - - - ------- - ---------- ------------------------- M -Ai -p M UP I I; I I I I I I I I, I, v, I I I I I I I, 18 111 a I; Ago RNA I A; A Ag I; OR ol RA P i A; RP I; OR


Ann Arbor, Michigan * Vol. CXV, No.45

Same-sex benefits could lead to suit

By Donn M. Fresard
Daily StafReporter
A little more than a year after the University
defended its admissions policies in front of the U.S.
Supreme Court, another courtbattle may be on the
horizon - this time regarding the University's
right to grant same-sex benefits to its employees.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm decided Wednesday
to pull same-sex partner benefits from new con-
tracts with state employees until a court can decide
whether they are legal after the passage of Propos-
al 2. Supporters of the amendment said the Univer-
sity is likely headed to court, if it continues to offer

University likely to go to court if it continues to offer benefits to gay couples

its own domestic partner benefits and if the court
rules the state can't offer them.
Proposal 2, which was passed by state voters in
last month's election, amended the state constitu-
tion to ban gay marriage or similar unions, mean-
ing that same-sex partnerships can't be recognized
as equal to marriage "for any purpose." Prior to
the election, the proposal's opponents argued that
its wording was vague and that it was not clear
whether it would affect domestic partner benefits
for state and public university employees.

"It's our legal position that the proposal that
passed is not relevant to our decision on what to
offer our employees," University spokeswoman
Julie Peterson said yesterday. "We intend to con-
tinue offering the benefits, and if those benefits are
challenged we will defend our right to do so."
But Patrick Gillen, an attorney at the Thomas
More Law Center who was a principal author of
the amendment, said the University's interpreta-
tion of the amendment is wrong and subject to
legal challenge.

"There's no question in my view that the
amendment precludes domestic partner benefits
(for public employees)," Gillen said. "I think it's
substantially certain there will be litigation."
Gillen said he would not rule out the possibility
that he or his law center would sue the University
Robert Sedler, a professor of constitutional law
at Wayne State University, said it will be unclear
whether the amendment legally bans any domestic
partner benefits until a state court provides a rul-

ing. If courts rule that it does, he said, the Univer-
sity's last line of defense would be to argue that,
as a constitutionally autonomous institution, it is
exempt from the amendment.
Asked about the autonomy argument, Gillen
called it "extraordinarily far-fetched."
"It would be extremely unusual, I believe
unprecedented in the history of the United States,
if a state university was exempted from a require-
ment of the state constitution," Gillen said.
See PROPOSAL, Page 7

Board debates
changes to 'U'
code of conduct

One amendment, proposed
by MSA, calls"for special
penalties for hate crimes
By Kristin Ostby
Daily Staff Reporter
A University committee is evaluating sev-
eral major proposed changes to the State-
ment of Student Rights and Responsibilities
- known as "the code" for student behavior
- which would include special penalties for
hate crimes and allow students facing expul-
sion to be represented by an attorney. But a
member of the committee said the Univer-
sity has already made up its mind to refuse
to allow legal representation.
The Student Relations Advisory Committee,
the board responsible for
reviewing the code, is
currently evaluating 19 Students
amendment proposals. S
The Michigan Student meet to'
Assembly proposed 18
of the changes, includ- proposed
ing the amendment to 1
allow students facing I OSCR will pres
expulsion to have attor- tions for code chs
ney representation. tosfrcd h
"Right now a stu- p.m. in the Michil
dent is allowed to Students can g
be accompanied by www.umich~edu/-
an attorney, but the
attorney can't rep- There will be a
resent them," said on Wednesday frc
Joshua Gewolb, the Union.
chair of MSA's code
of conduct advisory
board and a Law
School student. "In cases involving expul-
sion - which is a life-altering punishment
- we feel it's appropriate that students be
represented by an attorney."
Keith Elkin, director of the Office of
Student Conflict Resolution, the body that
enforces the code, said he is opposed to
such an amendment because it would com-
pletely change OSCR's process. "It changes
it from an educational process to one that
is like a criminal court process. The other
major problem is there's going to be a fun-
damental inequity in that, on the one hand,
students with the most money are going to

Jeffery Frumkin, University chief negotiator, assistant provost and senior director of Academic Human Resources, and Ronald Morash, associate
dean of the College of Arts, Science, and Letters at the University's Dearbom campus, looks over signatures on LEO's contract in May.
ecturers reopen negotiations


be able to hire better lawyers."
Elkin added that this proposal is also
unbalanced because it only allows the
accused, and not the accuser, to have an
attorney present. "And then the other thing
is, once you introduce lawyers on both
sides, then the University would have to
have a lawyer there," he added. "It just
totally changes the nature of our process."
OSCR will present its recommendations
for the code changes to the evaluation com-
mittee at a public meeting today at 1 p.m.
in the Bates Room of the Michigan Union.
The committee is then expected to spend
a month gathering feedback and make rec-
ommendations to President Mary Sue Cole-
man in January.
But Gold said the committee's recom-
mendations won't change the University's
"My own feeling
is unless the chair
officials f OSCR is open for
p further suggestions
'scuss ... then there's noth-
ing (the committee)
changes can do," Martin Gold,
a member of the code
evaluation committee
ent recommenda- and an emeritus pro-
:nge today at 1 fessor in psychology
Dan Union. said. "(Elkin is) the
ive feedback at head of the office.
-oscr. He's going to have
to live with all this,
forum discussion and because he has to
am 4 to 6 p.m. in live with this, I think
it's right for the Vice
President for Student
Affairs and the presi-
dent of the University
to weigh (Elkin's) decisions very heavily.
And since he's made his decisions, I don't
know what there is to discuss."
Another change proposed by MSA would
allow OSCR to formally consider whether
a student who violated the code was moti-
vated by a bias based on race, religion, gen-
der or sexual orientation - in other words,
whether they committed a hate crime.
"We feel that it's important for the state-
ment to reflect the fact that a student is
more culpable if their misconduct was
motivated by bias than if it was not, and
See CONDUCT, Page 7

By Ekjyot Saini
Daily Staff Reporter
The Lecturers' Employee Organization went
back to the bargaining table with the University
yesterday in order to address grievances filed by
lecturers who were let go by the University for the
winter semester.
LEO signed a contract with the University in
June after a lengthy process of negotiations, which
also involved a one-day walkout by union mem-
The controversy stems from the ambiguity con-
cerning the reason as to why the lecturers were let
Numerous lecturers were let go over the sum-
mer, and LEO claims that the University initially
said they were laid off due to budget cuts, but then

later claimed they were fired due to poor job per-
Under the contract, lecturers who are laid off
are placed on a waiting list and must be re-hired
if their department has openings in the future that
they are qualified for. But the University does not
have to re-hire lecturers if they are fired.
LEO claims that the University has placed new
faculty into positions that the lecturers feel they
were qualified to fill. The University has not pro-
vided a statement as to why the lecturers were let
Yesterday's meeting involved the three lecturers
from the English department who filed grievances
and representatives from LEO, the English depart-
ment and the academic human resources depart-
ment. Both the University and LEO expressed
optimism after what they said was a productive

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said
that the meeting provided positive discussion. She
said the parties were closer to a solution at the end
of the meeting, but no final decision was made.
LEO President Bonnie Halloran said, "The
meeting was longer than expected because of the
positive direction it was taking."
Halloran would not reveal any of the details
of the proposals that the University put forward
because of binding confidentiality negotiation
A second LEO meeting was held yesterday eve-
ning with union members to discuss the proposals
that the University put forward at the earlier meet-
"Members have some concerns that we will
See LEO, Page 7

State shortfall may
cause tuition 1k
By Jameel Naqvi budget in line with the revised revenue esti-
Daily Staff Reporter mates, according to Greg Bird, spokesman for
the Office of the State Budget. Bird could not
University students may face unexpected say whether higher education funding will be
tuition hikes next semester if the state decides cut under the plan.
to make up for lower-than-expected tax rev- Higher education cuts would lead to tuition
enue and sluggish economic growth with fur- increases, if administrators stick to statements
ther cuts to higher education funding. they've made in the past. AtJuly's budget pre-
The House Fiscal Agency, which estimates sentation to the University's Board of Regents,
state revenue, projects a $430 million budget Provost Paul Courant said, "If there are mid-
shortfall for fiscal year 2005. This amount, year reductions in the state appropriation,
though severe, is less we would ask the board to
than half of the $900 The House Fiscal approve mid-year tuition
million shortfall the increases to offset those
state experienced in Agency projects a reductions. After two years
each of the past two fis- in base and one-time reduc-
cal years. $430 million budget tions, we simply do not have
At today's emergen- sufficient budgetary or pro-
cy revenue estimating shortfall for the gram flexibility to sustain
conference in Lansing, Fiscal Year 2005. another cut without a new
the state principals source of revenue."
- the directors of the In the past, the Univer-
House and Senate fiscal sity's budget cuts - which
agencies and the state treasurer - will recon- amounted to a combined $57 million in 2003
cile their slightly varying projections of the and 2004 - have resulted in larger classes,
state's revenue for FY 2005, which began on fewer library hours and vacant faculty posi-
Oct. 1, and release an official estimate. tions. The state restored a portion of the
Gov. Jennifer Granholm is working on a money it cut from the University's funding
spending reduction plan to bring Michigan's See BUDGET, Page 7

Students looks to
20th anniversary
of Bhopal disaster

By Iris S. Perez
For the Daily
Today marks the 20th anniversary of
the catastrophic incident that killed 3,800
residents of Bhopal, India, by a noxious
gas leak whose repercussions are respon-
sible for the loss of 20,000 lives to date.
On Dec. 3, 1984, at 12:05 a.m., thou-
sands of Bhopal residents were awakened
by deadly methyl isocyanate gas becloud-
ing their town. The disaster exposed an
estimated half a million people to the
gas and has left survivors suffering from
exposure-related illnesses such as cancer,
severe birth defects, menstrual abnor-
malities and tuberculosis among other
Yesterday, student members of the Uni-
versity groups Students for Bhopal and
Environmental Action at the University
of Michigan members stood outside of the
Chemistry Building reading testimonials
of Bhopal victims as students entered and
exited the building.
Students also plastered 20 vivid posters
on the walls of the building that provided

information on the disaster.
"Each poster is a fact. Our main goal
is to have Dow (Chemical) give money
to Bhopal. Under the court of law Dow is
responsible," said Deepti Reddy, an LSA
sophomore and Students for Bhopal mem-
The lethal gas seeped from the Union
Carbide pesticide plant. Union Carbide
was bought by Dow - the largest chemi-
cal organization in the world - in 2001.
The-site is still considered highly toxic
and has contaminated the water sup-
ply residents drink from everyday with
importunate organic pollutants, hazard-
ous levels of mercury and other lethal
chemicals, students said.
Dow Chemical refuses to take liability
for the incident, placing liability on the
pesticide plant. The plant has paid the full
settlement of $470 million to the Govern-
ment of India in 1989 and has provided
monetary and medical aid to victims.
However, the Indian government
agreed to this financial settlement without
consulting the victims and cleared Union
See BHOPAL, Page 7

I' 5 5..

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