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December 12, 2005 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-12-12

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 12, 2005


Cie Birtigtt Dil

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All
other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.

44'For 12 hours
a day, 7 days a
week, my colleagues
and I are killing
- A 23-year-old Chinese gamer who goes
by the online name Wandering. He plays the
beginning levels of video games and earns
virtual currency to later sell to American
gamers, as reported Friday on nytimes.com.



Shooting straight, playing straight

When Presi-
dent Clinton
enacted the
military's "don't ask,
don't tell" policy, he
intended it as a liberal-
ization of the military's
previous outright ban on
homosexuals, closeted or
not. In the years since the
policy was implemented,
however, its flaws have become apparent. Even
though it allows homosexuals to serve in the mili-
tary, it forces them to live double lives. Instead of
making the military more accepting of homosexu-
ality, it has codified a bias against it. Homosexual-
ity is fine in the military - as long as nobody has
to deal with it, hear about it or even acknowledge
its existence. Apparently, there's nothing wrong
with a gay soldier - so as long he (or she) pre-
tends to be straight.
But instead of fighting the policy itself, law-
yers are arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court
to invalidate the 1996 Solomon Amendment - a
powerful few paragraphs that allow the federal
government to deny federal funds to any educa-
tional institution that the Secretary of Defense
deems to be obstructing recruitment efforts.
Thirty-four of the nation's top law schools have
decided that because "don't ask, don't tell" is anti-
gay, the military is a discriminatory employer that
should not receive a place at campus job fairs.
The implicit suggestion here is, of course, that the
military can continue its policy - just so long as it
keeps it well away from the Ivory Tower.
Why, if the policy is antigay, is public attention

not focused on the policy itself instead of a periph-
eral issue? If there's a perception that the military
is engaging in discrimination, why are supposedly
progressive activists fighting - on shaky legal
ground - to keep discrimination off college cam-
puses instead of fighting the discrimination itself?
The fact is that "don't ask, don't tell" margin-
alizes gay and lesbian soldiers as somehow infe-
rior. It actively discourages them from military
service and forces them to hide their identities.
It forces them to choose between serving their
country and living truthful lives. It embraces the
archaic belief that uncloseted homosexuality is
bad, and that the military cannot operate under
the influence of gayness. It passes value judgment
on a lifestyle variable that has little to do with
personal choice and even less to do with military
competency. Far from liberalizing the military's
stance toward homosexuality, it formalizes the
right of the federal government (the military) to
fire employees (soldiers) solely on the basis of
sexual orientation.
Even the argument that openly gay service
members will make heterosexual service mem-
bers uncomfortable presupposes the worst of both
groups. It assumes that all gay soldiers will be
uncontrollably drawn to their heterosexual com-
rades, that they will have no choice but to ogle
their fellow soldiers in the shower, that they will
force their gayness on innocent heterosexuals.
It also assumes that straight service members
will be unable to tolerate gay service members,
that heterosexual soldiers will simply be unable
to shoot straight under the influence of homo-
sexuality, that heterosexuals will be unable to
get over the psychological barrier of lying (in

nightclothes!) just beds away from an opportu-
nistic homosexual.
Yet openly gay soldiers serve without difficul-
ty in other NATO militaries, and American sol-
diers serve without difficulty with soldiers from
other NATO countries. Something tells me that
if the American military started accepting open-
ly gay soldiers, it'd survive. Something tells me
it'd be better off. Firing 10,000 competent gay
soldiers - at a time when ongoing recruitment
efforts are spectacularly ineffective - doesn't
come without its costs.
Of course, allowing openly gay people to serve
in the military would be controversial. There's
not a doubt in my mind that James Dobson would
be upset. But radical right-wing family activists
are always upset.
It was once controversial to have integrated
black-white military units. It was once controver-
sial to allow women and men to live together in
college dorms. It was once controversial to even
allow women in the military. Not so miraculous-
ly, society got over it. Women serve in the mili-
tary, all military units are racially integrated and
- believe it or not - students manage to live in
co-ed dorms without much difficulty.
It's time to move past "don't ask, don't tell."
It's a problematic solution to a problem that
doesn't exist. It codifies irrational years of
homosexuality. It hurts the military - it hurts
the nation. Instead of fighting to keep it off col-
lege campuses, lawyers and activists should be
fighting to keep it off the books.
Momin can be reached at


Addressing the need for a unified studentvoice

It is common knowledge that universities
across the country exist not only as institu-
tions of higher learning, but also as a leading
research base for both the federal government
and private corporations. With this knowledge,
we as students must then ask where priority
is being placed - to the pursuit of research
grants and publication or to students and the
education of future generations?
Simple math makes it clear that education is
no longer the top priority of the University, state
or federal government. According to the Univer-
sity's own documents, in the year 2001, funding
from tuition increased $183,712,124, state fund-
ing decreased $48,829,700 and federally sup-
ported research skyrocketed $201,940,000.
These statistics demonstrate a clear shift
away from student interests. Does this system
provide a high-quality education that is acces-
sible to everyone? To answer this question, it is
necessary to examine relevant statistics rather
than to make subjective claims.
In order to ensure a quality education, qual-
ity instruction is essential. Therefore, one would
expect the University to prioritize the hiring
and support of full-time faculty. This, however,
is not the case. Fifty years ago, all classes were
taught by tenure-track and tenured professors;
now the figure is only 50 percent. By hiring and
underpaying part-time GSIs and lecturers, the
University saves money (savings that are not
reflected in our rising tuition rates), but this
does not help to attract and retain high-qual-
ity, motivated faculty. Additionally, instruction
accounts for only 17 percent of the total budget
at the University, and the Lecturers' Employee
Organization says that 5 percent of tuition goes

toward nontenured faculty, who teach 25 per-
cent of undergraduate credit hours
As a public institution of higher education, the
University should be accessible to a wide range
of young people from all communities and back-
grounds. The student body should reflect the
demographics of the broad community it serves.
Again, the numbers reveal that this is not the case.
Columnist David Brooks wrote in The New York
Times that last year, University students coming
from families earning more than $200,000 out-
numbered students coming from families earning
less than the national median - roughly $53,000.
This inequity spans beyond income. To cite one
example, black Americans account for 14 percent
of the state's population but compose only 7 per-
cent of the University's student body. According
to an article in the Journal of Blacks in Higher
Education, the graduation rate for black students
at the University is only 64 percent, while the
graduation rate for white students is 87 percent.
This is one of many statistics that demonstrate the
unequal treatment of poor students and minority
students within universities. That same article
finds there are only five other high-ranked univer-
sities in the country with black student graduation
rates under 70 percent.
This analysis shows a pattern of decline in
quality, accessibility and diversity at the Univer-
sity. A solution to these problems is necessary.
As students, we are in a position to bring change
to the public higher education system, but only
if we can organize ourselves around the com-
mon interests we as a student body all share -
ensuring that our education is accessible, of the
highest quality possible and not superceded by
university obligations to nonstudent interests.
Based on these concerns, a new student group
has recently been established: the Michigan
Organization of Students.
MOS exists to represent student interests in

higher education and democracy at the city,
state and national levels. While a global view
is taken into account, the greatest potential for
change exists locally. For this reason, MOS
focuses primarily on pertinent local and cam-
pus issues. At the University, MOS seeks to
ensure that the administration's top priority is
to provide a quality, accessible education in a
diverse, democratic environment.
The key to MOS's legitimacy is mass par-
ticipation. By simply adding one more student
to the growing list of members, MOS becomes
a more powerful tool in advocating for stu-
dent demands. The more members MOS has,
the better reflection of the wide range of stu-
dent opinions and concerns the organization's
agenda will be. The principles themselves are
noncontroversial. Affordability should not limit
anyone's access to our university. The diversity
of the student body should reflect the diversity
of applicants. Students should be the priority for
an institution that exists to educate, and all voic-
es should be given fair and respectful consider-
ation and a timely and reasonable response. We
have a right to demand the quality education we
are paying for. All students have the right to feel
safe, respected and welcome at the University.
MOS asks for the participation of all our fel-
low students because we all have something at
stake. Anyone and everyone interested in taking
control of his education must take a stand and
show the University that college is about more
than being funneled through the education sys-
tem. Through cooperation, we have the potential
to make our university a better place for every-
one. For information on how to become a mem-
ber, go to www.mospower.org.
The authors are members of the
Michigan Organization of Students
and are writing on its behalf.




Is abortion reaUy a 'life-
changing' procedure?
I am writing in opposition to Friday's dis-
sent editorial in the Daily (Why have Parents?,
12/09/2005). I found the authors' opinions

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Andrew Bielak, Reggie Brown, John Davis,
Whitney Dibo, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Eric Jackson, Ashwin Jagannathan,
Theresa Kennelly, Mark Kuehn, Will Kerridge, Rajiv Prabhakar, Matt Rose,
David Russell, Brian Slade, John Stiglich, Imran Syed, Ben Taylor.

their daughter's abortion, just as they must
consent to other surgeries. However, I doubt
that anyone would classify root canals as
"life-changing procedures." Also, I doubt that
any parent would deny his child a root canal,
whereas many parents may deny their child
the right to an abortion because of religious

ters if they were to get pregnant. How would
parental notification benefit any of these
young women?
I find it ironic that our society deems preg-
nant young women incapable of making their
own "life-changing" decisions, yet the same
society assumes that these young women are




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