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May 07, 1997 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-05-07

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, May 7, 1997
Edited and managed by ERIN MARSH JACK SCHILLACI
students at the Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan
AL 'A Unless otherwise noted. unsigned editorials reflect the opmu11n o Int
420 Maynard Street majorin ofte Daily.,; eitol /hoard./ otharticles.dletters
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 '"aoofl"" do tlot neas'l ll it theopinion o/ T/ Alicigan aiOl

I f four Republicans in the state House
have their way, University policies
could regress to the point that personal and
ethnic background would no longer con-
tribute to admissions decisions. In a press
release issued Thursday, four state legisla-
tors - Reps. Deborah Wyman (R-Canton
Twp.), David Jaye (R-Washington Twp.),
Greg Kaza (R-Rochester Hills) and
Michelle McManus (R-Lake Leelanau) -
threatened the University with an investi-
gation into admissions policies they called
"shamefully selective" The state should
not interfere with the University's affirma-
tive action policy; it supports campus
diversity and fosters a unique learning
environment.
The lawmakers stated the possibility
of a discrimination lawsuit against the
University's office of admissions. The
5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled
against the University of Texas' law
school in March 1996 in a similar case.
Jaye stated intentions to introduce a ref-
erendum similar to California's

ReaIirming action
'U' must support AAU resolution

Proposition 209 that would effectively
eliminate affirmative action from use in
Michigan. Affirmative action's goal is to
put all candidates on an equal playing
field - removing it could seriously
challenge diversity efforts on campus
and in the workplace.
Despite what the four representatives
believe, affirmative action policies do not
work to institutionalize discrimination.
While there are laws granting equal oppor-
tunity to all regardless of race, ethnicity or
gender, vestiges of past discriminatory
beliefs still exist today and create a glass
ceiling on achievement for women and
minorities. The University's affirmative
action policies work to counteract past dis-
crimination by making the campus more
representative of the diverse communities

from which it draws students. It also cre-
ates a unique learning environment that
allows students to interact with people
from backgrounds different from their
own.
Recently, the Association of American
Universities - composed of 62 higher
education, institutions including the
University - adopted a resolution sup-
porting the use of affirmative action in
admissions. In light of events such as the
U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling, it is impor-
tant that universities throw united support
behind policies that broaden opportunities
for minority groups.
The AAU's resolution solidifies higher
education's commitment to diversity. The
association tried to eliminate the idea that
test scores and grades should be the only

factors in admissions decisions - it sup
ports a broader definition of merit tha
includes diverse backgrounds and experi.
ences as criteria.
The legislators' attempts to inter r
with University policies should not c
to fruition. The University must maintair
autonomy in order to ensure that polic)
decisions reflect what is best for the
University's educational goals rather thar
what is politically vogue. The Universit)
should stand steadfastly behind its affir
mative action policies as they promot(
diversity and enhance student life.
The controversial environment sur
rounding affirmative action threatens its
continued use. With conservative legia-
tors threatening investigations and law-
suits, affirmative action stands seriously
challenged. The AAU's resolution pre.
sents a united voice from higher educatior
supporting the use of affirmative actior
policies. The University should stan
behind it or risk a decline in camput
diversity.

Penalty box
Death penalty is not beneficial to the state
In 1846, Michigan became the first inequitable execution. There can be no
English-speaking territory to prohibit doubt that mistakes happen in the legal sys-
capital punishment. One hundred fifty-one tem - nearly 40 percent of death sentences
years later, several state legislators are work- are overturned upon appeal. Furthermore, in
ing to throw out the state's constitutional the past 27 years, new evidence freed 59
ban on the death penalty. Last month, state innocent death row inmates. One can only
Sen. Doug Carl (R-Mt. Clemens), a co- guess how many innocent prisoners per-
sponsor of one such bill under considera- ished in electric chairs and gas chambers.
tion, predicted approval by the state Senate. Even more disturbing are the obvious
Repealing the state's ban on capital inequalities in the types of crimes and
punishment requires a two-thirds majority inmates prosecuted to the fullest extent of
of both houses of the state legislature fol- the law. Over a 20-year period ending last
lowed by referendum approval by July, 23 times the number of African-
Michigan voters. Although passage in the American prisoners were executed for
Democrat-controlled state House of killing white citizens than vice versa.
Representatives remains far from a sure Similarly, poor and minority inmates are
bet, a 1995 poll of likely voters showed more likely to end up on death row than
more than 70 percent in favor of the death their white or affluent counterparts
penalty - if the bill reached the state's charged with similar crimes.
electorate, repeal of the constitutional pro- Proponents also argue that the presence
hibition would probably follow of capital punishment would serve as an
Proponents' rationale for capital pun- effective deterrent to crime - would-be
ishment range from the economic savings criminals, faced with the specter of death,
in executing prisoners to the reduction in might think twice about committing
crime. Their arguments are flawed on deviant acts. This point fuels most calls for
many levels. capital punishment. Citizens are told that
In monetary terms, the costs of execut- the death penalty is a necessary and effec-
ing prisoners could exceed those of life- tive solution to violent crime in Michigan.
time incarceration. Taking into account However, no evidence exists linking the
increased security costs for death row presence of a death penalty with reduced
inmates and the extensive appeals process numbers of capital crimes. Michigan's per
allowed - and paid for by states - dis- capita homicide rate is half that of
patching a prisoner may cost up to $2 mil- Louisiana's, where lethal injections have
lion more than lifetime incarceration. taken the lives of 23 prisoners since 1976.
Many proponents also claim that the The death penalty is an emotional issue
death penalty offers closure for victims' championed by those who follow the pre-
families. Long and often successful cepts of "an eye for an eye." Michigan has
appeals processes prevent immediate clo- a longstanding tradition of rejecting the
sure - and drag families through painful death penalty. State lawmakers must not
emotional trials. alter this tradition in favor of a vengeful,
Greater arguments against capital pun- inequitable and ultimately ineffective
ishment lie in the realm of its imperfect, practice.

Pdce of policy
Legislation threatens 'U"s autonomy
tate appropriations and financial aid Campus sexual assault is an importan
programs play a large role in state col- issue that colleges and universities shout
lege and universities' budgets. The state deal with effectively. Victims of sexua
sometimes abuses its power to put institu- assault often face stigmatization and dt
tions into a financial stranglehold. not report assault incidents for fear o
Legislation presently active in the state scrutiny. Sexual assault policies shlk
House and Senate would exact a steep foster an environment that allows victlrr
financial penalty for state colleges and to feel safe when reporting the crime
universities that do not have a written and committed against them.
enforced sexual assault policy. While The University has an established sex
ensuring sexual assault victims have a ual assault policy. However, other stat<
method of reporting crimes is important, colleges and universities do not. Al
the state should not use its budgetary con- schools must follow federal laws an
trol as a means to force its own policies on report crimes, but presently there is n
state colleges and universities. mechanism at the state level to mandat<
The House approved the bill twice but comprehensive policies. The propose c
it has yet to pass in the Senate. The bill would require that schools inform vic
would restrict 11 student aid programs of their rights and ensure that they are fre<
including if schools did not comply with from coercion to not report sexual assault
the policy, seriously hampering students' Survivors of sexual assault should hav<
ability to pay their tuition bills. The bill the right to protection on all campuses -
would punish students for their schools' an established and enforceable policy i:
policy decisions, unfairly placing an extra important for students' well-being. Th<
burden on them. state bill could help victims of sexua
In the past, the state used its control assault - the legislature should removi
over education appropriations dollars to threats to the University's financial auton
influence University policies. The legis- omy and pass the bill.
lature attached a rider to last year's appro- Fear of sexual assault threatensa
priations bill that threatened financial institution's educational environment
punishment for extending health benefits Victims of sexual assault should not fee
to same-sex partners of employees of as though they are without support if the:
state institutions. Michigan voters elect decide to reveal what happened to them.
the University Board of Regents to run state-mandated sexual assault polico
the University - using funding as a could go a long way in helping provide ai
weapon to influence policy undermines environment that supports victims
voters' decisions and challenges the However, the state should not dangl
Unviersity's autonomy. The University appropriations dollars in front of college
must be independent from state influence and universities to threaten them.h
in policy decisions - the state should relationship between state institutions an
change the proposed bill and allow the legislature should be autonomous t
schools to maintain control over their ensure that educational decisions ar
own policies. made in students' best interest.

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