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May 29, 1987 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly Summer Weekly, 1987-05-29

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OPINION

Page 6

Friday, May 29, 1987

The Michigan Daily

r

we mdyian til
97 Years of Editorial Freedom
Vol. XCVI - No. AS
Unsigned editorials represent the majority views of the Daily's
Editorial Board. Cartoons and signed editorials do not
necessarily reflect the Daily's opinion.
Acquiring immunity

A long and Weine-ing road

RECENTLY, MEMBERS OF the
Ann Arbor City Council proposed a
new city ordinance to ban
discrimination against city
employees who are victims of the
disease AIDS (Acquired Immune
Deficiency Syndrome). Although
the proposal was not passed this
time, its intent deals with a
problem we will all hear much
more about in the future.
AIDS is a most frightening
disease. It is 100 percent fatal,
having no known cure, and
researchers are only beginning to
discover possible treatments, as
distinct from cures, for the disease.
While victims of AIDS have
traditionally been members of
"high-risk" groups such as
homosexual men, hemophiliacs,
and intravenous drug users, the
disease has now spread into the
population at large. There are over
30,000 cases of AIDS in the United
States, and it is estimated that 1.5
million Americans are now infected
with the AIDS virus, yet show no
symptoms of the disease due to its
lengthy incubation period - some -
times as long as five years.
Because AIDS was first diag -
nosed in homosexual men, it was
thought to be a "gay" disease.
Many who feel an aversion to
homosexuality even espoused the
notion that getting AIDS was a
question of morality. Such ideas
fostered a lax attitude about the
disease among both the government
and general population, with regards
to the potential public health threat
posed by AIDS. It took years for
the government in Washington to
address the issue and to appropriate
needed funds for research and
treatment development. And even
today, much of the population
remains ignorant of the seriousness
of the disease, and the method of its
transmission.
However, AIDS is now seen as a
general health problem - a true
public threat, capable of infecting
and killing large portions of the
population. And with the increased
knowledge of the disease has come
increased fear. Many ideas have
been bandied about regarding the
most effective means to cope with
the epidemic. Total sexual ab -
stinence before marriage, mandatory
testing for the AIDS virus, and

quarantining those infected with the
virus are among the options that
have been discussed. None of these
measure takes into consideration the
rights and plight of the victims.
While there are roughly only
300 cases of AIDS in the state of
Michigan, Ann Arbor is home to a
cosmopolitan population eight
months out of the year, and many
school-time residents come from
states with a much higher incidence
of AIDS cases. Although indiffer -
ence to the disease seems inordi -
nately high among University
students, there have been two docu -
mented cases of AIDS among
members of the University
community.
Furthermore, while there are no
statistics to document the number
of city employees in "at risk"
groups, it is common knowledge
that sexual liasons occur among
full-time city residents, among
University community residents,
and among members of these two
groups. Therefore, barring a radical
change in the sexual practices of the
general population, it would seem
to be only a matter of time before
Ann Arbor experiences a growing
number of reported AIDS cases. A
city ordinance which protects the
rights of victims of AIDS is an
appropriate measure, and it is well
to enact such a law prior to a real
outbreak of the disease within the
city. Job discrimination, based
upon contraction of the disease
would only double the burden upon
the victim, and limit access to
needed medical insurance. While
there is no cure as of yet, there are
several drugs capable of treating the
disease and preventing its
progression in the body of an
infected individual. Since these
treatments will be largely financed
via medical insurance, access to
insurance is a necessity if AIDS
victims are to have any hope.
The city council should adopt a
measure to insure that its municipal
workers who contract AIDS are not
further inflicted by job dismissal.
Such a measure will protect the
rights of victims, and recognize that
AIDS is a medical problem which,
as long as it does not hinder the
performance of duty, has no place
in determining fitness for
employment.

IN THE MARCH Michigan Student
Assembly (MSA) elections, two
issues were salient: which party
would win and whether or not
PIRGIM would be funded through
MSA. The only party which
vocally supported the PIRGIM
funding, Students First, won the
elections by a wide margin.
PIRGIM garnered even greater
support with 69 percent of student
voters mandating funding through
MSA.
With this in mind, recent
maneuvering in MSA concerning
PIRGIM defies easy compre -
hension. After students had voiced
such substantial support for funding
PIRGIM, MSA president Ken
Weine and other newly-elected "pro-
PIRGIM" officers decided to present
PIRGIM funding to the regents as
separate from MSA funding. To
present the regents with the option
of funding PIRGIM separately
would surely have killed any
chances foreapproval. Weine, who
has been in contact with admin -
istrators, was well aware that the
regents would not support PIRGIM
funding as a separate item.
Weine was willing to throw
PIRGIM to the wolves out of fear

that MSA's own funding could be
cut if the assembly was to associate
itself with the somewhat contro -
versial private lobbying group.
Weine defended his position on the
basis that it was important to
secure funding for local groups like
the Ann Arbor Tenants Union and
Student Legal Services, rather than
take a risk by supporting PIRGIM,
a nationally-affiliating organization.
Weine's logic sounds disturbingly
similar to that of those who have
identified themselves as anti-
PIRGIM funding. Indeed, dis-
counting Weine's protestations to
the contrary, it is difficult to discern
between pur rtedly " ro-PIRGIM"
Weine an dPIRGIM 's avowed
enemies.
Fortunately, the assembly
overturned the decision to present
PIRGIM funding separately by a
narrow margin of 8 to 7, with
Weine abstaining. Weine's vote
probably would have resulted in
PIRGIM being presented separately
but Weine refrained from casting
the deciding vote, wary of creating
controversy. Weine explained that
he "wanted the assembly to decide
the issue." Evidently, Weine does
not fully appreciate that he is part
of the assembly and charged with

making controversial decisions.
Although the assembly's final
decision dictates that PIRGIM's
funding will be incorporated within
that of MSA, the resolve and
credibility of Weine and the
assembly has been brought into
serious question. If assembly
members intended to fulfill the
clearly expressed mandate of their
constituents, a move to effectively
quash PIRGIM should not have
even been considered.
The constant equivocation,
initial turnaround, and ultimate
silence of Weine is the most
reprehensible aspect of the entire
debacle. "Since I've gotten in the
driver's seat, my perspective has
changed...I must now consider the
institutional interests of MSA,"
Weine has said of his post-election
position changes. Secluded in the
"driver's seat, Weine appears to
have forgotten that the student body
loaned him the keys, partially
because of his avowed pro-PIRGIM
stance. MSA has no institutional
interests separate from those of the
student body. The sated will of the
student body is to fund PIRGIM
through an increase in the MSA
funds; it is the duty of MSA to
carry out that will.
st stupid'
actions of the regents seem an
attempt to intimidate and silence
would-be critics. There are now
indications that, having made their
message heard, the regents will
grant Professor Fusfeld his emeritus
status.
Yet this does not negate that the
regents have engaged in rank abuse
of power in their pursuit of a
personal vendetta. This exploitation
of power not only transgresses the
duties of the regental office, but
violates the principles of free
exchange and criticism espoused by
the University. The regents, who
are supposed to occupy a role of
leadership in the University
community, have forsaken their
responsibilities and undermined the
values upon which that community
is founded. Far from exonerating
themselves from the charge that
they "are not evil people; they're
just stupid," the regents have given
profound testimony to the veracity
of such an evaluation. Indeed, recent
events have shown that, if the
judgement was faulty, it was in its
generous estimate of regental moral
character.

'Regents not evil, ju

THE UNIVERSITY BOARD of
Regents have so far denied
Professor Daniel R. Fusfeld his
deserved title of Professor Emeritus
of Economics. In doing so, the
regents have exhibited pettiness and
malevolence. In 1979, Fusfeld ask -
ed the regents to divest Univesity-
owned stock of companies operat -
ing in South Africa. In light of
regental obstinance, Fusfeld quoted
a freind to the effect that "the
regents are not evil people; they're
just stupid."
In response, Regent Roach
motioned to table Fusfeld's
emeritus status. Roach said, "I was
offended by it [the comment made
in 1979]. There was nothing we
could do at the time, but we talked
about it, and we decided if we ever
got the chance..." The review of
Professor Fusfeld's emeritus status
provided the regents with a chance
to get even.
Professor Fusfeld, respected in
the field of economics, has served
well his students and the
Univeristity for the last twenty
seven years. He has earned all the
honor that goes with emeritus
status.

According to the by-laws of the
University, "Emeritus professors
shall be regarded as members of the
University instructional staff who
have retired..." Fusfeld may be the
first professor to be denied emeritus
status.
The true meaning of withholding
job benefits because of Fusfeld's
statement is deeper than evening a
score. Fusfeld was not acting in his
capacity as a faculty member. He
was petitioning the regents to aid
Blacks in South Africa.
The regents wish to punish
Fusfeld for a political statement,
conveniently forgeting that freedom
of speech is guaranteed under the
First Amendment. Moreover, the
regents have chosen to impose pun -
ishment for non-academic actions
on the part of faculty members.
To allow the regents to use this
form of "dishonorable discharge" as
retribution against faculty critics
would set a dangerous precedence.
The castigation of Professor Fusfeld
would senda clear message to other
faculty members that vocal
criticism, at least of the regents, is
not welcomed in the academy. The

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