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July 17, 1996 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1996-07-17

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the everyday magic
of the airport
I think I'm one of the few people who go to the
airport when I don't have to fly. That's right - I
hop in my car and head east on I-94 to Detroit
Metro just to watch the people and the planes.
I like walking into the air-
ort and seeing the newest
Utos on display. I like using
the Jetson-esque moving side- g
walks, and I like watching the
baggage carousel go round
and round. I even like the
newsstands, where I some-
times buy a magazine just
because I'm at the airport.
But the most important rea-
son why I like airports is GREG
because they encompass peo- PARKER
le with so many different
elings. There are families with wide-eyed kids,
each dragging their favorite teddy bear by the ear,
ready to board a flight to Disney World. There are
business people, looking important, briefcases
and Franklin Planners in tow, wearing sharply
creased slacks and navy blue blazers, running to
catch a flight to New York or Chicago, probably to
negotiate some multi-million dollar take over.
There are families being reunited; there are fami-
lies being torn apart or separated for unknown
*nghts of time. There are even people who are
entering this country for the first time, ready to
start a new life in America.
It is all these people that draw me to the airport.
Each individual, each from a different town, each
has a different reason for flying somewhere, yet all
of these different people are assembled to make
the trip together. This is the magic of the airport.
Perhaps the best vantage point at the airport is
at the arrival and departure gates. It's great to grab
a seat and watch people coming into the terminal
after exiting the plane. The smiles of passengers as
Oey anticipate meeting the long-lost friend and
the soft sighs of relief from travelers as they return
home after a long and exhausting trip is what
makes this place special. They file by one by one,
with carry-ons and kids, and occasionally those
free bags of peanuts. The people picking up pas-
sengers crane their necks, waiting for the first
glimpse of their respective travellers.
Here some of the most dramatic reunions take
place -people dropping luggage and possessions
embrace their loved ones. The scene is a amal-
amation of cries and shouts and murmured
"excuse me"s that come from travelers wishing to
pass by the crowd.
I could watch this for hours. It's all the feelings
that it brings forth that I like - watching people
being affected by so many feelings brings back
each of those individual feelings to me, on a per-
sonal level. I like to re-experience some of these
feelings, whether they are happy or sad, as I think
it is good for my soul. It reminds me of long for-
gotten feelings and memories that might not come
t mind during the daily ins-and-outs of life. I
eed to see sappy reunions and sad departures and
giddy children to put things back into perspective
for me, to remind me of these often forgotten
facets of life.
One thing that I haven't done at the airport is sit
at an airport bar. I'd love to strike up conversations
with some of the patrons, asking them where they
were going or where they had been. I'd hear all of
their stories, all of their troubles, and all of their
achievements. I could share the feelings of these peo-
*le directly, instead ofjust observing from a distance.
Perhaps they'd ask me questions, like why I was
at the airport. I'd just tell them I needed to get a
good dose of life.
Greg Parker can be reached via e-mail at

Wednesday, July 17, 1996 -The Micoigan Daily - 5

Students on the Hill
MSA gets its day in Washington

By Probir Mehta
The political landscape in 1996 again finds stu-
dents in a bind.
Although massive cuts will probably not be a
reality this year, the GOP will again make an
assault on the federal Direct Student Loan pro-
gram. In the last two years, students - the future
of this country - have weathered assault after
assault on their ability to attend institutions of
higher learning as the new Republican majority
has threatened the federal student loan program in
its zeal to balance the budget. Although the Pell
Grants and Family Education loan programs will
mostly likely be spared, Republicans are sharpen-
ing the cutting knife for the Direct Student Loan
Few federal programs have as much direct
impact on our lives as the federal DSL program,
in all its incarnations. The only interest group
missing from the equation is the banking and
finance industry. Recognizing the enormous
profit potential they could reap with the elimina-
tion of federal direct student loans, they have lob-
bied intensely for the elimination of federal pro-
grams that lend directly to students. If they suc-
ceed, only America will lose. The banking indus-
try has lobbyists hard at work and we need to level
the playing field.
Fully cognizant of the effects of the cuts in stu-
dent loans, the Michigan Student Assembly will
inaugurate the first annual "MSA Student Lobby
Day" in Washington, D.C. as part of our continu-
ing effort to lobby on behalf of students.
Fortunately, we will be able to capitalize on the
many University students who are interning in
Washington. Interns are often the anchors of their
respective offices in the summer, and therefore
have a more insightful outlook on the legislative
process than what simple textbook learning can
give. A common complaint I have heard from leg-
islative offices is that students never make their
voices heard in an effective manner. They rarely
lobby on Capitol Hill, and besides occasional cor-
respondence, this dearth of contact puts us at a
severe disadvantage. Any legislative office can
attest to the fact that a well-prepared, face-to-face
meeting is the most effective way of making your

view heard.
In the modern political arena, the reins of
power in Congressional offices are held by the
staff. Meetings with Senators and
Congresspersons are often ineffective, and rarely
accomplish much. With that in mind, the Lobby
Day will be composed of meetings with the
higher education staffers from the two Senatorial
offices and 16 Congressional offices that repre-
sent Michigan in the U.S. Congress. Each meet-
ing will be attended by at least two University of
Michigan students in Washington, D.C. We will
prepare lobbying packets and talking points for
each team. As young, recent college graduates
themselves, we anticipate the staffers to be more
receptive to our concerns than a
Working in Congressional offices the past two
summers has afforded me the chance to see the
legislative process from the dual perspective of an
outsider and an insider. Citizens do have a voice
in Congress if exercised properly. MSA has lob-
bied extensively in the past, but never in a coordi-
nated effort in Washington, D.C. With the large
amount of legislation that affects students directly,
it is imperative that we present our side of the
debate in a clear and concise manner. It would be
a waste if we did not use the considerable talents
of University interns in a manner that will benefit
all the students of the University. We have the
resources and ability to organize a professional
and focused lobbying effort.
Our priority will be to try to increase the levels
of direct student aid, and to support President
Clinton. I remain confident that this lobby day will
bear some fruit. If nothing else, we will establish
ourselves with the people who will be making
decisions that affect all of us.
It will give us contact with legislators that have
traditionally never had a visit from representatives
of the student population of the University of
Michigan. Hopefully, this will be a start of a new
tradition at the University:
Probir Mehta is the MSA Vice President and
an LSA junior He can be reached
via e-mail at pmehta@umich.edu.

In defense of
sacred unions
Election years bring out the very worst in peo-
ple, don't they? This past Friday, the House of
Representatives passed the Defense of Marriage
Act, which, if approved by
the Senate and President
Clinton as expected, would
prohibit marriages between
persons of the same sex.
And as usual, congression-
al Republicans are leading
the charge from a self-con-
structed moral high
ground; a moral high
ground they have no right
to stand on, especially DEAN
when it comes to marriage. BAKOPOULOS
Republican venom over
the issue often contains the phrase "preserving the
sanctity of the institution of marriage." If
Republicans want to stand on their moral high
ground and truly "defend" marriage, then they
should look at other issues as well. Try for exam-
ple, adultery and divorce. Bob Dole and Newt
Gingrich are just two of the many congressional
leaders who have left first wives for other women.
And that's not just rumor and hearsay, but facts
that came out in divorce proceedings long ago.
And how about folks like Bob Packwood and Al
D'Amato, both of whom have been accused of
sexual misconduct with Senate staffers? If we
truly want to legislate marital morality, we proba-
bly should start with those issues. After all, the
Bible is more adamantly against divorce and adul-
tery than it is against homosexuality.
Obviously, Congress will not pass laws against
divorce and adultery. (Wed have to lock up too
many Congresspersons.) And of course, it should-
n't. The point is, marriage is a sacred union
between two people who love each other There
are plenty of reasons why the sacred institution of
marriage is crumbling, why divorce rates are high,
why infidelity has become almost acceptable, and
why children are growing up in unstable homes.
But homosexuality is not one of those reasons.
When two people decide to get married, all that
Congress needs to be concerned about are issues
like taxes, pensions and wills. Most people rec-
ognize this fact, and that is why many people
have religious ceremonies to seal their relation-
ship. Then, the union becomes an event between
two people and God. Churches do, and should
have, the right to make rules regarding holy mat-
rimony. Churches are in thespiritual business and
have a responsibility to dictate moral matters
when necessary. That responsibility needs to be
respected. But Congress has no such business.
Still, Republicans are quick to jump on a
moral high ground in an election year, and as
usual, they have picked a scapegoat. This year
the scapegoats are homosexuals. And why not?
After all they are definitely a minority and do
not possess the ability to sway an election. And
what better way to woo the Religious Right, a
group that grows more and more un-Christian
every day with its intolerance and self-right-
The Defense of Marriage Act shows one key
truth: It's much easier to find faults in others
than to look inward at our own dark and gnarled
corners. Congressional leaders need to look at
their own behavior before they can start point-
ing fingers from a moral high ground. Even reli-
gious people need to realize that Congress' laws
should not be made to enforce God's laws. Does
anyone really think the Big Guy needs help
from Republicans?
- Dean Bakopoidos can be reached
via e-mail at deanc@umich.edu.



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