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August 02, 1999 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1999-08-02

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, August 2, 1999
Edited and managed by EmILY ACHENBAUM NICK WOOMER
students at the Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan
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ffirmative action has enhanced the qual-
ity of the student body by creating an
atmosphere of diversity. It has provided stu-
dents from different cultural and ethnic
backgrounds the opportunity for interaction
and thus broadened the individual spectrum
of experiences. Yet, due to the lack of con-
crete studies on this issue, the use of race in
admissions has often led to heated debates
during campus discussions. One controver-
sial issue is the argument that affirmative
action produces graduates that are not quali-
fied for the workplace.
In a study recently published in the Law
Quadrangle Notes, the University Law
School showed that race was not a barrier to
success for law graduates. The study - ini-
tiated few years ago - surveyed about 700
African Americans, 300 Latinos, 60 Native
Americans, 154 Asian Americans, and 927
white alumni who graduated from the
University between1970 and 1996 on their
income, field of work, and job satisfaction.
Not only does the study show that race was

Affirmative action produces quality graduates

not a barrier to success for law graduates , it
also finds that the numerical admission stan-
dards of the Law School Admissions Test
and undergraduate grade point averages bear
no relationship with one s achievement after
law school. This publication helps to dispel
some of the misleading facts about affirma-
tive action and is a huge step forward to jus-
tify the use of race in admissions.
Very often, opponents of affirmative
action have doubts over the quality of grad-
uates that these programs produce for the
legal profession. One of the key findings
was that minorities have "entered the main-
stream of the American legal profession."
Since the study surveyed alumni spanning
over a period of three decades, it revealed
that the workplace has significantly

changed Minority graduaes from the Law
School in the 1970s entered a world of prac-
tice in which there were few other minority
lawyers and law firms 'src highly segregat-
ed by race. But minority giaduates over the
next two decades found s-ork in firms of all
sie ranging from govsenmeintal work to
bcsioess corporations and teaching posi-
tions. This reflects upon the direct results of
affirmative action practices that the
University has applied in its admissions
process over the years. It has increased the
diversity within the legal profession.
While the study did reveal differences in.
terms of initial job selections --the majori-
ty of whites opted for private firms, while
minorities opted for government work - the
achievement in terms of earned income,

ci r satisfaction and service contributions
for. ininotity graduates xvere similar between
the two groups over time. This further
destroys doubts that affirmative action
ar csthe quality of graduates. J
This study has helped to dispel myth4
about the harms and discrimination of affir-
mative action. But instead, the study shows
that diversity enhances the quality of educa-
tion and adds to an educational experience
for the student body.
The University is currently facing two
lawsuits over its practice of affirmative
action. With California's Proposition 209,
which ended the use of racial preferences,
the study strengthens the justification of
affinnative action. Affirmative action is not
a process of discrimination and does notE
reduce the quality of graduates. Diversity in
higher education enhances the educational
experiences and should be protected. The
University needs to continue the practice of
affirmative action for the interests of stu-

No entry




State needs to increase access for disabled I Fungus causes more problems than it solves

The ability to make your way easily
around town is something that most
people generally take for granted. But as
about 60 disabled Michigan citizens gath-
ered on the streets of Detroit to commemo-
rate the ninth anniversary of the passage of
the Americans with Disabilities Act last
Monday, Michigan residents were remind-
ed that not all citizens have the simple plea-
sure of being able to get up and go when
they want to. The anniversary of the
Americans with Disabilities Act, coupled
with the effective protest of these few
Michigan residents shows that great
progress is needed to ensure that the state
and its facilities are accessible to not just
some, but all of its citizens.
As most people have noticed, access for
disabled people around the state is better
than in the past. Ramps have been con-
structed where steps used to lead up to
buildings and additional floors. Helpful
innovations, like doors that open automati-
cally, and lifts on buses have been added to
everyday life. But what people may not see
is that major areas of the state remain inac-
cessible to disabled people.
As the Detroit Free Press reported, dur-
ing the gathering to draw attention to the
rights of disabled citizens, those in wheel-
chairs were forced to move onto Woodward
Avenue in order to avoid cracked sidewalks
and curbs that were not accessible to wheel-
chairs. State buildings are also commonly
unfriendly to the disabled. The Free Press
stated, "Some of the worst examples (the
protesters) encountered were in Detroit's
showcase business and tourism areas, such
as the theater and opera district." This
shows that the problem is not only decrepit
buildings and old areas, but the new ones as
well. The state is not adhering to the will of
the Americans with Disabilities Act by con-

tinuing to build structures that are not
accessible to disabled people, and refusing
to repair the old ones in a timely manner.
Part of the difficulty when it comes to
improving access for disabled citizens is
that Michigan residents fail to realize the
scope of the problem. Buses that don't
arrive, doors that won't open, and sidewalks
that are too broken to use are first a prob-
lem because they make a disabled person,
especially one that lives alone, a virtual
prisoner in his own home. Afraid to ask for
assistance from family or friends, the psy-
chological implications of being home-
bound on a daily basis are frightening to
But in addition to the underlying cruelty
of the situation, access for disabled people
is also important because our state is losing
the valuable contributions that disabled
people can make. Because they cannot trav-
el as easily, it is more difficult for them to
get a job or learn new skills. By making
efforts to improve access for disabled citi-
zens, not only will the lives of the disabled
be improved, but the quality of the state as
The Americans with Disabilities Act
was the first step in ensuring increased
access for disabled citizens. But with the
loopholes that can always be found in the
letter of the law, it is up to the states to con-
tinue to improve access with the same will
that the law was drafted. As we have seen
on the ninth anniversary of the American
with Disabilities Act, there are still many
improvements that need to be made. New
construction should be accessible to the
disabled, and old structures should be
repaired in a reasonable amount of time.
Until all citizens have the same rights to
commute as they please, the job will not be

O fficials in Florida are planning to
risk the future of the state's agricul-
tural economy in the name of eradicat-
ing marijuana. Jim McDonough, the
recently appointed head of Florida's
Office of Drug Control, is planning to
spread a fungus genetically engineered
to kill marijuana over areas where the
plant is suspected of being grown. Is
marijuana such a threat to the nation that
it justifies recklessly interfering with
nature? The only rational answer to this
question, regardless of one's personal
opinions about marijuana, must be a
resounding "no."
Of course, Florida anti-drug officials
deny that their plans are reckless at all
and insist that the fungus will be rigor-
ously tested before it is unleashed - but
history and common sense say other-
According to the New York Times,
the fungus, known as Fusarium oxyspo-
rum belongs to a species of fungus that
is already predisposed towards mutation,
leaving many environmentalists to fear
that the genetically engineered fingus
may mutate itself and turn on a variety
of plants besides the intended marijuana
plant. Some endangered plants, toma-
toes, corn, peppers, and flowers could
all be vulnerable, and Florida's hot cli-
mate makes it an unusually ideal place
for organisms to mutate. Even worse, in
the event of such a mutation, "it would
be difficult, if not impossible (to control
the anti-pot fungus)" wrote the
Secretary of the Florida's Department of
Environmental Protection in a letter to
Historically, Florida has had a long
list of problems with the introduction of
foreign species. For instance, a fast-

growing Chinese vine called Kudzu was
planted earlier in the century to stop ero-
sion, it has since claimed everything
from houses to roadside throughout the
South because it grows a foot a day.
The Miami Herald recently reported
that farmers in Peru strongly suspect the
United States' use of an anti-coca fungus*
species has led to the death of tangerine,
yucca and banana crops. U.S. officials
disavow involvement in the death of the
food crops but admit that they have
aggressively researched biological her-
bicides to use against marijuana, coca
and poppy plants.
In light of these facts about the
Fusarium species and the nation's past
failures (both real and alleged) irr intro-0
ducing species into foreign environ-
ments, it seems safe to say that only the
most callous individual would even con-
sider the plan McDonough is promoting.
It appears that McDonough is willing to
open what could be Pandora's box for
Florida's farmers in exchange for politi-
cal clout for himself and his supporters.
Such a plan would still sound ridicu-
lous even if it were aimed at a destruc-
tive drug like crack cocaine. No matter
how one looks at it, the potential bene-0
fits of a society free of illicit drugs sim-
ply do not validate a course of action
that could destroy a large part of a whole
region's economy.
Genetic engineering is a promising
technology, but it remains new and at
this stage it simply makes no sense to
attempt to control the habits of a species
that is more susceptible to mutation that
most other organisms. So much risked*
for a gain that would be, at best, debat-
able is simply not a good idea. The fun-
gus should not be used.

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