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February 11, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-11

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 11, 2005

OPINION

eI~ £hdiptt &itilg

JASON Z. PESICK
Editor in Chief

SUHAEL MOMIN
SAM SINGER
Editorial Page Editors

ALISON GO
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
Their message to
us is that we're not
citizens, we're not
worthy, that we don't
exist."
- Historian and activist Hatoon Fassi,
commenting on Saudi Arabia's prohibition
of women's suffrage in its recent municipal
elections, as reported yesterday by Reuters.

SAM BUTLER T'E S5APBOX

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Danger of the status quo
SOWMYA KRISNAMURTHY AU.Di ALTERAM PARTEM

4

mployees at
Weyco, an insur-
ance benefits
administrator in Okemos,
Michigan are knee-deep
in a corporate controversy
that enables their boss to
terminate them if they
smoke. Health aficionado
and company president
Howard Weyers initiated a plan last year to
keep his employees from smoking by initially
fining offenders and requiring their attendance
at a smoking cessation class in which a smok-
ing counselor was brought in to help moderate.
In January, Weyers tightened his policy, requir-
ing that his 200 employees undergo mandatory
testing for smoking and random breathalyzers.
Those who fail will be fired.
As usual, the American Civil Liberties
Union and others attempted, to no avail, to
halt the testing by arguing that employees'
personal lives are meant to remain just that
- personal.
Honestly, I doubt that Weyers has inten-
tionally made invidious distinctions between
smokers and non-smokers. To Weyers, a
healthy worker is more apt to be produc-
tive, and in many regards this is probably
true. From a cost perspective, non-smok-
ers are also less of a financial burden on a
firm. According to a study by the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention from
2002, annual productivity losses and health
care costs were over $3,000 per smoker.
With already-rising health care fees, Wey-
ers has stated that he, as a small business
owner, simply cannot afford to insure smok-

ing employees. Furthermore, Weyer's actions
are completely legal in the state of Michigan.
This state is one of 20 with no legislation pre-
venting employers from banning smoking at
or away from the workplace.
And this is by no means the first form of
so-called "lifestyle discrimination." Until the
mid-1990s, several airlines enforced poli-
cies that limited how much a flight attendant
could weigh. The Boy Scouts of America
have vehemently enacted an anti-gay hiring
policy. And just last year, Lynne Gobbell was
fired from her job at a conservative insulation
firm in Alabama for driving to work with a
Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker in the rear
windshield of her Chevy Lumina.
Fairness dictates that only those traits that
hinder one's ability to successfully perform in
a job should be grounds for termination. Yet
the division between property creates a mala-
dy, in that courts are hindered from enforcing
such a regulation in the private sphere.
But we, as employees, are also at fault.
Guised under the fallacy of free will, many
of us surrender jurisdiction over our lives to
employers without even realizing it. One of
the highlights of my semester at the Stephen
M. Ross School of Business is undergoing
the internship acquisition process. Per-
fecting resumes, ironing my business suit,
schmoozing with recruiters, remembering
to maintain good posture and exude viva-
ciousness - the painstaking lengths we go
to keep up appearances is largely a charade.
But deceit is the name of the game - it's not
so much what you know, but what you can
make other people think you know. Compa-
nies hire those candidates who embody - or

at least can feign in a 30-minute interview
- certain corporate tenets. No one would
employ me if he knew that money is perhaps
the largest impetus driving Business School
students, or that despite the bullet points on
my resume, I am completely disorganized
with no perception of punctuality.
Even after getting a foot in the door, the
sham persists. A common business confession
is that those most apt to receive promotions
or bonuses are employees who "fit" into some
nebulous managerial mold versus straight
competency. In other words, those extra min-
utes spent playing the lickspittle at the water
cooler or throwing back a few brews with the
boss after work do pay off. Those who invest
time in "fitting in" get rewarded, while their
rebellious counterparts are sent packing.
This is synonymous in many regards to
Weyco - the only distinction is the grounds
for firing. Whether it is for smoking or for
not being a "team player," the end-result is
the same: Employees are judged based upon
subjective criteria and the discretion of their
employers, and we as employees aggravate the
situation by participating in this status quo.
Forcing employees to surrender personal
autonomy definitely treads the dangerous
line of legalizing discrimination. Let Weyco
serve as the caveat and not the catalyst: What
begins today as an impediment to smoking or
a mandatory uniform could quite conceivably
legitimize homophobia, racism, sexism, etc.
within the workplace down the line, under the
innocuous pretext of increasing productivity.

Krisnamurthy can be reached
at sowmyak@umich.edu.

Reinventing the wheel ...
JASMINE CLAIR THE MEANING OF PROGRESS
T'~ his campus epito- in proving to everyone else that we know it all. couches in student ghettos when we could eas-
mizes arrogance. And we do know it all ... ily read them for free in the comforts of our lav-
A University But before I go overboard with my sarcasm, ish homes. Education is a means to an end, and
degree inflates our egos to let me pose a more serious question. What is along the way, we enhance our analytical and
the point where others can the purpose of our education here? Do we come trade skills.
sense our presence before here simply to appease our parents? Or to sat- Is there anything wrong with using education
our arrival. If you don't isfy society's standards of success? for the convenience of egos or to satisfy a pre-
believe me, take a campus Unfortunately, some find the University a scribed requisite for success? Well, it depends
poll. The people here know place to showcase what they already know on who you are. I once read about a man who
how true this is better than rather than to learn what they don't. Rather idolized America's system of meritocracy
anyone else. And make sure to consult our Uni- than searching for fresh new perspectives, we because it allowed him to work his way out of
versity "servants" on the issue. I know that you instead look for evidence to build stronger cases poverty, and now he's a very successful lawyer
know what I mean, but we'll pretend that you for our own personal biases. Too afraid of dam- living out in the suburbs. He was very proud,
don't for the sake of entertainment. aging our delicate egos, we learn new things almost to the point of arrogance. His story was
Here are a couple examples of the people that to justify old ways. Therefore, we don't have new to me, but it was the same old story used to
we treat like servants. First, we have the Uni- people studying issues to find out if they are argue that racial and socioeconomic barriers no
versity janitors and technicians who go unno- more liberal or conservative. We instead have longer exist - the same old romantic American
ticed until we need something. Responsible bright young minds staunchly declaring their tale that's been told for centuries.
for cleaning sinks decorated with toothpaste- allegiance to a party and using coursework to However, the ghetto, which he left his rela-
covered ramen noodles and repairing urinals reinforce these ideas. tives living in, still exists. His success brought
clogged with dried vomit - always happy to Rather than seeking objective truth, we sub- nothing new, his people were still poor, and
clean up after us, but never performing up to the ject and limit ourselves to the thoughts of past their schools still produced a handful of suc-
standards set by mom and dad. thinkers. We supplement our readings of Marx, cessful students.
Then we have those pesky security servants Locke, and Plato with our own agendas. Often We study history because it tends to repeat
- a.k.a. rent-a-cops. Because our parents feel misconstruing their arguments so that we can itself. Unfortunately, there are too many disad-
more comfortable knowing we have our own formulate ideas of our own, we fail to realize vantaged people here to let this cycle continue
personal police force, we reluctantly agree to that our "new" ideas about why going to Iraq is in America. If we are truly the best of the best,
spare them their jobs. But every now and then, wrong are the same old ideas that were used for we should be shaping fresh new perspectives,
they get out of line and we have to put them the Gulf War and Vietnam. The same new ideas not finding support for the arguments that our
back in their place. How often have policemen that we use to justify banning gay marriage are parents have already made many times before.
heard, "My parents pay your salary asshole!" the same old arguments used to support slavery As the future comes, we can't continue to
from a drunken co-ed? The same one crying in and racism. Hence, we find ourselves reinvent- follow the footsteps left to us because this will
their faces a week later when someone "breaks" ing wheels. only produce another broken-down, squeaky
into his house because he was too careless to So once again, why are we here? Well, wheel. So what are you going to do? Pretend
lock the door behind him. because we're pragmatists. Many are not as like the wheel ain't broke? Do an oil-and-duct
If you won't admit that we're arrogant interested in learning new things as they are tape job? Or scrap the wheel for some custom-
despite the survey results, then I will. It's noth- in using this world-class degree to prove our designed low profiles on spinning 22s.
ing to be ashamed of. The University goes out greatness to future employers. Let's be hon-
of its way to provide us with the largest librar- est. We aren't spending tens of thousands of Clair can be reached
ies filled with books and technology to assist us dollars to read books while sitting on broken atjclair@umich.edu.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR

There is no moral
victory in a loss
TO THE DAILY:
I cannot tell you how sick and tired I am of
reading crap like this (What does a moral vic-
tory look like?, 02/09/2005). A moral victory?

victory? How is the word "victory" in this say-
ing when Michigan lost?
Moral victory? This team is way over ever
deserving a moral victory. These players have
been in the system now for one or two years. I
have yet to see one person improve. Coach
Tommy Amaker, who I think is a great person

ries." Because just as the basketball team, you
will be going nowhere!
Michael Patton
Alum
OPINIONATED

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