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May 29, 1996 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1996-05-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

4-p finelhig3ln aik-3A JAes a,"' MC 6,1996 " _ a"
Edited and managed by LAURIE MAYK ERIN MARSH
students at the Editor in Chief PAUL SERILLA
ti University of Michigan Editorial Page Editors
Un lessotherwise noted, unsigned editorials relect the opinion of the
420 Maynard Street majority of the Dailys editorial board. All other articles, letters and
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily

L ast fall when the Sigma Phi Epsilon
fraternity house on campus burned
down it seemed the only real loss was the
prominently located State Street building,
which was serendipitously vacant for some
time. Arson investigators cleared the prop-
erty of rumored foul play; insurance
claims were filed; and later the University
continued proceedings to purchase the
property at an adjusted cost - it appeared
that was the last anyone would hear of the
Sigma Phi fire. Recently, however, the
Continental Insurance Company, which
insured the house for the Sigma Phi
Building Association, has filed a lawsuit
which is only concerned with covering
Continental's extensive losses on the prop-
erty (damage claims were in excess of
$770,000). The means by which this law-
suit intends to find fault, however, strong-
ly questions the University's relationship
with fraternities and sororities, and, to a
lesser extent, all students.
The lawsuit names the University, the
Office of Greek Life, the city of Ann
Arbor, the fraternity's national chapter and
"unknown parties" as groups that alleged-
ly share responsibility for the property
damage. Though it seems somewhat outra-

- Defining terms
'U' not responsible for fraternity property

geous for the University and the other par-
ties to be named in the suit, it is fairly
common practice for a plaintiff with
extensive legal resources - such as an
insurance company - to sue anyone who
might be able to cover such large financial
losses. Clearly, at the time of the fire the
University did not own the property, and
was in no position to influence the proper-
ty's caretaking. Property maintenance
responsibilities lay with its sole proprietor,
Sigma Phi's Building Association. It is
ludicrous to infer that the University
should be responsible for or have control
over private property used by students.
However, Continental has found ways to
allege otherwise.
An attorney for Continental stated the
University has a connection with fraternities
and sororities and a responsibility for all
enrolled students' legal and moral well-being

under "in loco parentis." Currently, there are
no formal relationship terms between the
University and the Office of Greek Life -
something Continental has requested in writ-
ing, so it can see where its case really stands.
This places a troubling question before
the University - is the administration will-
ing to pay Continental for theoretical con-
trol over the Greek System? In recent years,
certain members of the administration have
expressed the desire for more control over
sororities and fraternities. Should the
University claim some degree of control,
they will certainly be held liable for the
property damage.
Students' tuition dollars, or any other
University funds, should not be doled out
so that the University can gain a tighter
reign over the Greek system. "In loco par-
entis" is a misguided concept, because it
virtually legislates morality for students.

Its purpose was certainly not intended to
extend to matters concerning property that
does not belong to the University, but a
rightfully independent organization. The
relationship between the University,
the Interfraternity Council and the
Panhellenic Association, two groups that
act as intermediaries between fraternities,
sororities and the administration, has
always been relatively free of strain, and
the open nature of that relationship shoukd
not be challenged.
Giving the "in loco parentis" concept
any credibility would set a precedent in
which the University could be liable for
every legal matter that sororities and f-
ternities encounter.
The case also has the potential to affect
all students. The University might take this
case as justification to further regulate stu-
dents' moral and legal rights. Students'
rights are already threatened by the
University's Student Code of Conduct.
The University's purpose is to educate,
not to take on the responsibilities of polic-
ing students' activities - to uphold ta-
dents' rights and freedoms, this suit t
be fought with a simple re-affirmation of
the Greek system's independence.

Student investors
Condos could be built with tuition funds
R ecently, the Board of Regents approved the sale of 18 acres of University land to the
University Condominium Association, an independent faculty organization. The
UCA intends to build an 18-acre condominium complex devoted to faculty members
who are retired or over the age of 55. The facility, to be located on Huron Parkway, will
be partially University-financed. Up to a quarter of the construction costs - estimated
to be between $18 million and $23.5 million - will be provided from the University's
investment portfolio. The portfolio consists of funds classified as "working capital
resources" - including some student tuition dollars.
The UCA's intent is to provide retired faculty with a place to live that is close and
connected to the University, encouraging them to continue contributing to its academ-
ic environment. With an auditorium, meeting spaces and lecture halls included in the
plans, continued teaching and learning is emphasized.
The idea that these condominiums will become a community of retired scholars
within the University is intriguing. Many faculty members can continue to make rich
contributions to the University community well into their retirement years. That the
administration is aware of this fact is important. However, creating the ambitious com-
plex may not be the best way to pursue this objective.
The greatest concern is cost. Regent Deane Baker, the lone regent to vote against the
plan, called it a "luxury project." He pointed out that the property was sold for a fraction of
its market value and added his concerns for the timeliness of the project, given recent
extreme cuts in the University Hospitals. His concerns should be heeded by the rest of the
regents. The University's $18 to $23.5 million share of the cost is lofty. Despite this, the
University treasurer's office says that the condos could be a money-making investment.
Such speculation is not enough to justify spending these amounts - particularly in
light of unanswered questions. It is not clear that large numbers of professors are leav-
ing the Ann Arbor area upon retirement. Offering other incentives to those who may
leave would be more practical. The sprawling, pricey complex is excessive. Will retired
faculty want or even be able to live in the condos? At a whopping cost of .25 million
dollars for each unit, the price may discriminate against some faculty to the benefit of
others. The benefit to students is unclear - the complex will be located at a distance
from campus and therefore may be inaccessible to most students.
The administration should consider all these questions carefully. Without adequate
answers, the immediate impression of this plan is one of high expense and risk.
Encouraging retired faculty to remain active in the University is a noble idea, but spend-
ing students' money is inappropriate. With the largest tuition burden of any public uni-
versity in=the country, students would benefit more'ifthe funds were devoted to lower-
ing tuition costs or strengthening financial aid programis.

Gender inequity
'U' shows deficiencies in status of women
here is good news and bad news about women's status at the University. The gc
news is that the University is making progress toward gender equity. The bad newt
is that there is a long way to go - longer than many had expected.
Last week the Center for the Education of Women released the third edition of itt
report "Women at the University of Michigan," an ongoing study tracking the status anc
progress of women at the Ann Arbor campus. The report found that the University hat
shown significant and commendable progress in some areas of gender equality - mosi
notably in the increasing number of women enrolling and completing an undergraduate
education. The University is also making a concerted effort to hire more women for pro-
fessorships. However, the University still lacks in granting tenure to female professors
It has fostered the continued existence of a wide gender gap in tenure and the disc-
portionate balance of women and men in higher and lesser paying jobs.
Surely, the report is encouraging in many ways. Full professorships for women have
doubled in the last 15 years. Associate and assistant professorships have grown by 3 and
6 percent, respectively, in the last five years. The University will also become the first
major university to comply with Title IV for gender equity in intercollegiate athletics
All of these steps indicate that the University is heading in the right direction.
However, upon closer statistical examination, one sees that the University still faces
quite substantial problems. The number of full female professorships may have doubled
but they stand at a mere12 percent of the faculty. Similarly, female associate and assistan
professors comprise only 26 and 36 percent of all professors. In addition to the painfull)
low numbers of full professorships, women are being passed over for men on the te
track. For women of color, the situation is worse - while they constitute 10 percenf
professors, only 4 percent are on the tenure track. The inequality is unacceptable.
Critics say that it is more difficult to retain women professors because of the high
demand from universities nationwide. While this is partly true, there is a sufficiently
large pool of qualified applicants, mostly in the fields of medicine, law, pharmacy and
art. The excuse that retaining female professors is difficult does not explain the existing
gaps in tenure-track professors.
President James J. Duderstadt has acknowledged that the gender gap is unacceptable
He should be commended for his efforts instating programs such as the Michigar
Agenda for Women. However, President Duderstadt's days in office are numbered. e
next University president must make gender equity a top priority.
Programs such as the MAW and the Target of Opportunity Program are good first steps in
the fight for gender equity. However, the University must make more rapid progress. The gaps
and inequalities betwen aale and female prpfessors negatively affect studeqIs. The University
01i tnityy shoutd pressure tIre University's administration to correct the inequality.

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