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July 30, 1983 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1983-07-30

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I

OPINION

Paqe 6

The Michigan Daily

Saturday, July 30, 1983

utf- -

The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCIII, No. 29-S
93 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by students of
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
Educators, or
police force?
What should a man do who has been called upon for
military service - that is, called upon to kill or to
prepare himself to kill?
- Tolstoy
F OR MANY YOUNG men, registering for
the draft is a violation of their moral or
religious beliefs. Instead of honoring their
beliefs, the U.S. Justice Department - with
strong support from President Reagan -has
chosen to hunt down the "hardened criminals"
and bring them to trial.
Fortunately, only a small percentage of those
men have actually been rounded up and taken
to court. Although we regret the prosecution of
even one of the draft resisters, at least there
have only been a few "sacrificial lambs."
Equally upsetting, however - and jeopar-
dizing many more people - is the Solomon
Amendment, a law linking college financial
aid with Selective Service registration.
Under the law, which took effect July 1, male
college students applying for federal financial
aid must sign a form certifying they have
registered for the draft. Men who fail to sign the
form are denied federal aid.
Perhaps in the future, federal law will require
universities and colleges to force students to
pay unpaid parking tickets, or sign vouchers
that they never played hooky in grade school.
To help alleviate the problem, other colleges,
such as Yale University, have set up alter-
native funding programs for non-registered
students whose aid has been cut off. Sadly,
University officials announced recently they
have "no intention" of setting up similar
programs.
University President Harold Shapiro, as well
as Vice President for Academic Affairs and
Provost Billy Frye, have sharply criticized the
law because it causes the University to become
"a policing arm of the federal government."
The University, however, does plan to help
students find alternative funding or jobs - we
commend them for that. But if the Ad-
ministration is really as opposed to the law as they
claim, why not go all the way and set up a
program for subsidizing those students affec-
ted?
By doing so, they would help University
students who have been unfairly discriminated
against, and send a strong message to
Washington that colleges will stick to
educating- not policing themiasses.

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A

House page defends system

By Halle Czechowski
The most recent round of the
page scandal has left many
Congressional leaders calling for
an end to the page program.
Although their concern for the
young people who serve as pages
is understandable, it is an ex-
treme reaction to a few isolated
incidents.
While not wanting to justify the
actions of the two representatives
involved in the most recent even-
ts, in the long run, the scandal
could prove to strengthen the
page system, rather than weaken
it.
Last summer, when the
allegations of illicit sex and
drug use among the members of
Congress and the pages first sur-
faced, the House of Represen-
tatives initiated an investigation.
In that investigation letters
were sent to former pages from
the last ten years asking them to
report any incidents of improper
sexual conduct or drug use with
representatives or staff mem-
bers. The letters also urged pages
to testify if they could dispel any
of the allegations.
In addition, newspapers all
over the country conducted in-
dependent investigations, hut un-
fortunately, all the reporters
wanted were tales of kinky sex
and drug use on the House floor.
For all of the time and effort
that went into uncovering the
scandal, only two cases were
discovered - one occurring more
than ten years ago.
Every person who has served
as a page has had to put up with
snide remarks and jokes. The
newspaper accounts never
focused onthe hard work in-
volved with being a page, leaving

many readers with the im-
pression that pages are teen-aged
nymphs that roam the halls of
Congress. For many pages, past
and present, this has tainted a
valuable experience.
Pages, who are appointed by a
member of Congress, work on the
House and Senate floors
delivering messages, ringing
bells for votes, pouring water,
and supplying Congressmen with
the needed information for a
debate.
Perhaps they are nothing more
than glorified "gophers," but
they do perform a needed ser-
vice. Congressman Joseph
Moakley (D-Mass.) called pages
"the backbone of Congress."
Pages work long hours for little
pay. An average page walks
more than 28miles in a single
day. They work for as long as the
Congressmen do - often until 2
or 3 in the morning.
Many critics of the program
complain that the lack of super-
vision of the pages, combined
with monthly paychecks of more
than $765 can only lead to trouble.
But it is the lack of supervision,
however, that allows the ex-
perience to be so valuahle.
Students get a chance to be on
their own for a year or two, lear-
ning many lessons in budgeting
their money and getting by.
If Congress is worried about
how teen-agers behave with little
supervision, they should be more
selective about the students
chosen to serve. One would hope
that by the time a person is 17,
their parents would have instilled
in them a little responsibility.
Contrary to the wild sex stories
spread in the papers, most pages
and Congressmen develop
healthy friendships.
Congressman James Whitehurst
(R-Va.), for example, is popular

with the pages because he likes to
take small groups of them out to
dinner and on excursions to the
beach. Hardly "immoral" ac-
tivities.
Unfortunately, most
newspapers have chosen to dwell
on the two incidents
exaggerating their importance
instead of pointing out the
positive aspects of the page
program.
Two incidents in ten years isn't
bad when one considers that
during that period there were
more than 1,007 pages appointed
and 5,350 Congressmen elected.
Congressmen who break the
law should not be treated lightly
because of their position. If they
do something that threatens the
government's integrity, then they
deserve to be punished by their
peers. A whole system shouldn't
be scraped, however, because of
two incidents. Since the
allegations were made, several
attempts to upgrade the system
have been made. But for the most
part, the public will never really
know about those attempts.
The experience of being a page
is unique. Only a handful of high
school students are selected each
year for the once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity of working with
America's public leaders.
Opportunities like this
shouldn't end just because of a
few unsavory incidents. Instead,
Congress should reassess the
program, and the manner in
which they choose young people
to serve-in it.
Everyone knows Congress will
survive; we can only hope the
page system will also.
Czechowski is a Daily staff
writer and served as a U.S.
House Democratic Page in
1981.

I

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