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December 07, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-07

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

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 pieces do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

''I think that he
has been an
embarrassment to the
Supreme Court.
- Incoming Semate Minority Leader
Harry Reid, referring to U.S. Supreme
Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as
reported Sunday by CNN.com.


A goodbye, and a letter to you, who can write

'm a total hack at every-
thing I do. I'm comfort-
able with thatstatement,
because occasionally hacks
accomplish great things
like "Louie Louie" or the
dog sweater. But so far I
have never done anything so
redeeming. I'm just a hack,
V V,4' through and through.
"Now, Steve," you surely
answer, "you're not a hack at all. I never knew what
you were saying in your columns, but you said it so
well." Thank you. That is the compliment I love to
get, and you give it so well. But a few of you will
agree: I am not only ahack, but a blight. A waste of
space. A bag of hot air. A broken record. A sexual
dynamo. Oops.
Anyway, if you are the sort who has enjoyed
poking my eyes out on the page with a pen, then
try to bear with me just one more time. It is, after
all, my goodbye column, so that should give you a
little satisfaction.
This isn't going to be a column in which I retract
or stand by past statements. I've written a lot of
dreck, but some of it wasn't so bad. Nor is this
intended as an apologia for my deviant behavior.
After all, am I truly responsible for getting drunk
and kissing someone's friend instead of them, or
for calling Daily people by the wrong name, or
for generally smelling up the Student Publications
Building? Who can say for sure?
No, I can't touch topics like those, and they
would just be stuffing, anyway. So I've decided to
be dreadfully didactic one more time. I'm going
to say something and what could I possibly know
more about, care more about, and be more up-in-
arms about, than the Daily itself?
I want to start by saying what the Daily is. We
don't need to goback 114 years, or even to the '60s,
when our paper claimed the ideals that it clings to

today by a pinky finger, to know why the Daily
exists. Every day, this is the best publication in Ann
Arbor - better than the Ann Arbor News, which
somehow endorsed President Bush in this town of
towns; better than Critical Moment, the alternative
rag that is struggling to make a splash; and yes, even
better than the Every Three Weekly when we made
our "Jeopardy" issue last January (I am still proud
of a certain "interracial high-five" diagram).
The Daily, more than any other paper, really
tries to keep up with this town, and that is not an
easy thing to do. Music writers swan dive into the
local scene, opinion writers stalk student groups
as they pop up, sports writers hide in sweaty lock-
ers and everyone else keeps their ear to the ground
through wind, rain and snow.
Or, at least, they could. Mostly, people hang
around and do page layout or some other task that
will help them up the hierarchy. Sure, there is plen-
ty of attention to the page, but mostly for what it
looks like, not for what it says. We are becoming a
paper of editors, not writers.
And allithe minions who come to the mass meet-
ings never stay long enough to realize that: 1) yes,
they can write 2) their editors can't 3) who is going
to write the stories they know, if not them? Every
writer takes a shot in the dark when he or she asks
to be published. It could end up glorious or humili-
ating, as we have seen in the last month, but it only
happens if you elbow your way onto the page.
I understand if an aspiring writer is shy. The
Daily really tries hard to throw its tradition at you,
as if there is some old blind man in the attic who
tells us secrets after dark. But the secret is, we're all
a bunch of hacks. I mean this in the best possible
sense. We're all a bunch of students with big heads
who for some reason think we can say things better
than other people. And some of us can. But there is
never any threshold you cross when this becomes
official. A writer rises and falls with every word.
There is no such thing as tenure, only the occa-

sional favor for someone who proved himself in
the past. And thankfully, even thebest writers have
to move on from here when they graduate.
The Daily is abit like Paul Bunyan's ax, with six
new handles and seven heads, or the ship in Thucy-
dides that has been completely re-planked or the
Buddhist saying that you never stand in the same
river twice. We call it the Daily, as if we have it
pegged, but at any moment it is whatever students
are willing to do. Respect for precedent holds us
back from going crazy, but there have been more
unsettled times, years ago, such as when the Daily
was taken over by leftist radicals for a semester.
The paper went to shit, but it was a good demon-
stration of student willpower.
In my time here, the strongest student response
to the Daily was a boycott. What were these people
thinking? Boycotts are for consumer services, like
buses, because people find they can't affect them
any other way. That's not what the Daily is. No
one is a victim here. We are students, all of us. We
have good ideas and bad ideas, and we print them
because we can. If you want to change the Daily,
you don't boycott it, you become it.
I suppose, for some would-be writers, no amount
of prodding will get them to reach for the newspaper
that props the door open at 420 Maynard. Writers
don't like to think of themselves as joiners. But I
know there are people out there whocouldkeep this
town on its toes, and I hope they try while they can.
As a final goodbye, I want to thank all my friends
at the Daily, past and present, who gave me an
inkling of what is possible in writing and in life. I
may always be a hack, but perhaps one day that will
be a compliment. And as a parting gift, I just want
to remind everyone that Inever accepted a paycheck
- not a single one - in all my time with the paper.
So let's go have a party, and say it's on me.
Cotner can be reached at


Daily wrong to hold Dow
liable for Bhopal disaster
Every year at this time I find myself cringing
at the Daily's erroneous regurgitation of the facts
surrounding the 1984 chemical spill in Bhopal,
India. This terrible tragedy resulted in the injury
and deaths of several thousand people and was
one of the worst industrial accidents in history. As
the Daily chooses to repeat the detail of this event
annually, I would like to suggest that in the future
they get their facts together correctly.
In the article, (Students look to 20th anniversary
of Bhopal disaster, 12/03/2004) Reddy, of the Stu-
dents for Bhopal organization asserts that "Under
court of law Dow is responsible" for the Bhopal
incident. This is simply false. In 1984, the Bhopal
site was under the control of Union Carbide India,
Ltd. (UCIL), which was under the ownership of
the Union Carbide Co. However, in 1989, Union
Carbide, after paying $470 million to the Gov-
ernment of India (a settlement determined by the
Indian Supreme Court to be "just, equitable and
reasonable"), sold its assets in UCIL to McCleod
Russel and was later renamed Eveready Industries

India, Ltd. Thus, as of 1989, the Union Carbide
Co. retained no assets or liabilities from its Indian
operations - these were the sole responsibility of
EIIL. The Union Carbide Co. and UCIL are not
and have never been the same thing, the basis of
much of the confusion surrounding this issue.
In 2001, The Dow Chemical Corp. purchased
the stock of the Union Carbide Co., making it a
separate legal entity, under the control of Dow.
Dow did not acquire any of Union Carbine Co.'s
assets or liabilities, but even if they had, there .
would still be no legal basis for claims to Dow's
culpability toward Bhopal - these fall squarely
on the shoulders of McCleod Russel, Eveready
Industries India and the Indian Government.
Furthermore, the Dow Chemical Corp. has
been an industry leader in the push for increased
corporate social responsibility. A major tenet
of its Environment, Health and Safety depart-
ment and the corporation asa whole has been its
"vision of zero" - zero incidents, zero injuries,
zero environmental harm. Bhopal was a terrible
tragedy for the chemical industry, India and the
world as a whole. The Daily, as an entity work-
ing to inform students, would behoove itself to
go beyond the immediate sources of informa-
tion on campus when attempting to cover issues

of international scope.
Ted Matherly
LSA junior
The letter writer is aformer Dow employee.
The Michigan Daily welcomes letters from all
of its readers. Letters from Universityastudents, fac-
ulty, staff and administrators will be given prior-
ity over others. Letters should include the writer's
name, college and school year or other University
affiliation. The Daily will notprint any letter con-
taining statements that cannot be verified.
Letters should be kept to approximately 300
words. The Michigan Daily reserves the right to edit
for length,clarity and accuracy. Longer "viewpoints"
may be arranged with an editor. Letters will be run
according to orderreceived and the amount ofaspace
Letters should be sent over e-mail to
to @ icgandaily.com or mailed to the Daily
at 420 Maynard St. Editors can be reached viae-mail
at editpage.editors@umich.edu. Letters e-mailed to the
Daily will be given priority over those dropped off in
personor sent via the U.S. PostalService.

Demolishing history

The Ann Arbor Historic District Commission
is deeply concerned about the proposed demoli-
tion of the Frieze Building. It was designated by
the Ann Arbor City Council as a historic build-
ing in 1994 and received an award for the resto-
ration of the cornice in 1995. Because this is an
important architectural landmark as well as a
cultural touchstone for the city of Ann Arbor and
its residents and because it stands at the border
of the Old Fourth Ward Historic District, I spoke
last week on behalf of the HDC to the University
Board of Regents asking to reconsider.
Built as the Ann Arbor High School in 1907,
Frieze played an extremely important role in the
educational development of this city - second
perhaps only to the University itself. It was a
magnet for students all over the state of Michi-
gan who wished to attend the University. Class-
es taught there often resembled those of the
University. When an older high school burned
in a spectacular fire in 1904, the entire commu-
nity rushed to save its precious library as well
as other artifacts and equipment. That is was so
rapidly rebuilt on its original site is testimony to
its importance to the community.
Malcomson and Higginbotham of Detroit,
one of the premier architecture firms of its day,
designed the building. Many of its buildings

still stand throughout the state of Michigan as
testimony to good construction and pleasing
architecture. Almost all of them are on the
National Register of Historic Places or the State
Register. Among them are the David Macken-
zie Home in Detroit (1895); the former Detroit
Central High School (1896), now part of the
Wayne State University Historic District, Cass
Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church in Detroit
(1891), Starkweather Hall (1896) and Welch
Hall (1896) on the campus of Eastern Michigan
University, the Ford/MacNichols House (1896)
in Wyandotte, the Henry Ford home (1908) in
the Boston-Edison Historic district of Detroit,
and many schools throughout the state, includ-
ing Cass Technical High School (1907) in
Detroit. In Ann Arbor they designed the Pratt
Block (1896) on South Main Street and Memo-
rial Christian Church (1891).
The loss of this building will directly and nega-
tively impact the historic structures surrounding
it, including. the former First Unitarian Church
(1882, now Hobbs and Black Architectural Firm),
Harris Hall (1886), the First Methodist Church
(1940), Lane Hall (1917) and the Rackham Grad-
uate School (1938). The loss will also be detri-
mental to the Old Fourth Ward Historic District,
which borders the Frieze Building.
Although not listed on the National Register,
and not part of the Central Campus Historic

District, this building is eligible for the National
Register. Under such conditions, the University
would have to go through a Section 106 Review
process before any federal money could be
used to demolish or replace the existing struc-
ture. This process will involve review by both
the State Historic Preservation Office and the
.National Park Service and may prohibit the use
of federal money on the project.
We know the Frieze Building is in serious dis-
repair and does not currently meet the needs of
its users. We believe that most of the necessary
repairs are cosmetic, as the building is extremely
well built and should still be sturdy. But we also
know thatbuildingslikeitsalloverthe UnitedStates
have been rehabilitated and retrofitted for another
century of use. The University recently did such a
rehabilitation of the School of Natural Resources
on Central Campus and the Perry School just off
campus. The University is a leader in many fields,
and this project could show it is sensitive to com-
munity concerns. Demolishing this building and
putting it into the landfill makes no sense envion-
mentally or economically. Another use could be
found for this building and it could be a win-win
situation for all parties involved.
Wineberg is a member on the Ann
Arbor Historic District Commission and a
University alum.

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