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July 08, 2002 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2002-07-08

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 8, 2002
letters@michigandaily.com Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
STUDENTS AT THE Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editmials reflect the opinion of
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
SINCE 1890 necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
he long saga of the Arthur Miller D t f c facility if the unrealistic goal of a "world-
vith the revelation in the Arm Arbor a7ic
Theater reached its nadir last week e4 LI VI R e e~I l a" theater had not been so vigorously
whe eannate n Aadvanced. If Bollinger had adhered to a
News that the project is indefinitely stalled, Hubris and misguided vision have stalled the Miller Theater more reasonable vision for the project,
funding has dried up and the University has Arthur Miller would have a structure to
no direction for the project. A series of gifts honor his contributions to the University
from University alum Charles Walgreen humanities won him support from many $67 million, a markedly higher cost than any and American drama. Bollinger's hubristic
were to provide $15 million for the professors and members of the University of the comparable - but more modest -- belief that he could accomplish the mam-
Walgreen Drama Center, a complex that community. However, the execution of the ongoing theater projects around the country. moth undertaking despite limited funds has
would include the 600-seat Miller Theater Miller project illustrates his critical flaw as The $1 million the University spent on the hurt both the University's drama depart-
as its focal point. The project slowed and an administrator. Instead of creating a man- original consulting and architectural fees ment and the entire community.
eventually halted as costs spiraled, and the ageable proposal that would fit both the has been lost and a project which should As Mary Sue Coleman assumes the
project, as originally planned, proved University's budget and needs, Bollinger have been finished later this year has now presidency in three weeks, she should
impossible to complete. Although the sought to create a "world-class" facility that returned to the initial planning phase. remember the errors of Bollinger. Although
University is quick to refute any sugges- would bring renown to the University and The project is now riddled with uncer- Bollinger's penchant for grand projects has
tions that the Arthur Miller Theater is in serve as a defining aspect of his legacy in tainties. The University is considering mov- led to successful undertakings, such as the
jeopardy, itsis apparent that when the pro- Ann Arbor. ing the site from adjacent to the Power burgeoning Life Sciences Initiative, it is
ject is finished, it will be dramatically Bollinger's dream of an unparalleled Center for the Performing Arts to a location apparent that Bollinger's visions often con-
altered from that originally envisioned by facility was the primary reason for the pre- on North Campus. The original architectur- flicted with reality and the nitty-gritty busi-
the University and its fiercest champion, sent troubles. His desire for the ideal theater al firm has been fired and it is clear that ness of running a University. Coleman must
former University President Lee Bollinger. limited the University's ability to alter the Bollinger's vision has been abandoned. balance these conflicting desires and pre-
Bollinger staunchly supported the idea plans earlier in the process and unnecessari- The misfortune of these events is that vent the financial excesses that often
of the theater since his inauguration as pres- ly impinged upon the options to restructure the facility could have been completed accompany the desire for the unmatched.
ident in 1997. His campaigns to improve the facility. Due to these restrictions, the without excessive waste and the University She must not yield to the vainglorious pur-
the University's drama offerings and original $18 million price-tag ballooned into could be enjoying the benefits of a superb suits that marked the Bollinger era.

Inauspicious oversight
Partisan inquiry threatens credibility of the judiciary

Still not enough
SAT reform will only generate more problems

With a simple letter U.S. Rep. and
Judiciary Committee Chair James
Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) struck a
powerful blow against both the separation of
powers and judicial authority . The June 26
letter to 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief
Judge Boyce Martin demanded that the
court turn over a series of documents relat-
ing to the Grutter v. Bollinger lawsuit.
Sensenbrenner is investigating how justices
for the Dec. 6 en bane hearing were selected.
Sensenbrenner senses impropriety and he is
determined to find it - despite
the costs to his credibility and, Thex
more importantly, that of the entire reqi
federal justice system. comm
The Sensenbrenner investiga- non-
tion flows out of the controversy value:
at the center of the May 14 uncom,
Urutter opinion. In the opinion, comm
Reagan appointee Judge Danny the Cot
Boggs alleged that the 6th Circuit qualil
improperly altered the hearing Sense
schedule to prevent two justices la
from being included on the panel.
However, Judge Karen Moore's opinion
illustrates the actual course of events.
"Even if the hearing panel had taken
immediate action to circulate the en bane
petition to the whole court on that date, the
case would have been heard by the same en
bane court that in fact heard it on
December 6, 200 1. The record simply does
not support any other conclusion on this
point." Despite this reality, Sensenbrenner
is willing to prematurely indict the 6th
Circuit and the authority of Judge Martin.
While Sensenbrenner is acting within
his authority as Judiciary Committee
chair, it is troubling that he has chosen
this particular instance to exercise it. The
letter argues that if two judges who were


nominated by Republican presidents had
served on the panel that heard the affir-
mative action lawsuit the eventual deci-
sion could have struck down the
University's admission policies.
Sensenbrenner fails to recognize that
party affiliation does not dictate the out-
comes of decisions, instead
Constitutional precedent and interpreta-
tion must be the basis for opinions.
Sensenbrenner's reductionist approach to
the judicial system as a forum for the
advancement of political
osition causes should call into ques-
ires a tion his ability to serve as
tment to Judiciary Committee chair.
artisan The position requires a com-
and an mitment to non-partisan val-
romising ues and an uncompromising
tment to commitment to the
stitution, Constitution, qualities that
ies that Sensenbrenner lacks.
nbrenner Sensenbrenner's misguided
cks. efforts to advance his party's
political goals will come at the
expense of the authority of the courts.
Sensenbrenner's attempts to create the
appearance of malfeasance for the purpos-
es of discrediting the court's decision.
While genuine misconduct must be inves-
tigated, frivolous inquiries, such as
Sensenbrenner's most recent pursuit, limit
the autonomy of courts to manage their
caseloads and reach decisions.
Sensenbrenner's maneuverings have
done much to erode public faith in the
judiciary and have continued the slow
process of stripping the court of its intrin-
sic ethos. The courts are slowly moving
toward becoming partisan battle grounds,
an outcome that can satisfy neither liberals
nor conservatives.

For years, the Scholastic Aptitude Test has
come under fire from educators nation-
wide. The test's inherent bias toward stu-
dents who attend wealthier high schools and
can afford expensive test preparation services
has been well documented and extensively dis-
cussed. The most powerful criticism of the test
has come from University of California
President Richard Atkinson who threatened to
stop using the SAT in admissions to the univer-
sity's ten campuses. In response to these chal-
lenges, the College Board will insti-
tute a series of changes to the test, Despit
which in 2005 test will result in a chang
new SAT Despite these changes, test's
the test's most persistent problem, pers
chronic bias against the poor and problem
minorities, will remain. bias ag
The most notable addition to the poo
test is a handwritten essay portion, minorh
which will require test-takers to ren
craft an essay on an assigned topic
in 25 minutes. Already fraught with bias and
accuracy problems, the new SAT will now fur-
ther handicap low-income students, minorities
and students whose first language is not
Numerous studies have demonstrated that
the SAT is a poor assessment tool and contains
inherent biases. The present format dictates
classroom curriculun in much of the nation, is
coachable and rewards insignificant test-taking
skills. This has led to a situation where students
who attend better schools and have access to
expensive resources such as test preparation
courses enjoy a distinct advantage over many of
their peers. Students and their families who can
afford to do so, routinely spend hundreds of
dollars preparing for the exam.
The format tinkering carried out by the
College Board was aimed at addressing some
of these oft-criticized deficiencies in the


exam. But eradicating the failures requires
much more than simple addition; it requires a
complete overhaul of the test's format so that
each student has an equal opportunity to
exhibit their academic potential and ability. By
adding an essay portion to the exam, the
College Board has not only failed to address
these deficiencies but has inflamed them. An
essay written in 25 pressure-packed minutes
hardly qualifies asan accurate assessment of a
students' writing skills, much less their poten-
tial as a writer. Test-takers whose
e these first language is not English,
es, the already at a disadvantage, will find
most it increasingly difficult to score as
stent well as their native English-speak-
chronic ing peers.
linst the Moreover, the writing portion
and of the exam's stringent guidelines
ies, will leave no room for creative choices
ai. or imagination, a valuable indica-
tor of real potential that is wholly
ignored by the SAT. Students can expect to
find their classrooms increasingly tailored to
teaching the cookie-cutter 5-paragraph essay.
The College Board's failure to repair their
exam and the new biases that it has generated
reveal the failure of high-stakes testing to pre-
sent accurate assessments of students' acade-
mic progress. Colleges that have dropped the
exam as an entrance requirement report no
drop-off in the academic ability of their stu-
dents and increased diversity in their student
bodies. The SAT's new look will not serve
higher education, students or society.
Colleges and universities must recognize
these failures when judging applicants.
Standardized tests can never serve as replace-
ments for a thorough evaluation of Itudents
academic transcripts, extracurricular activi- i
ties and life experiences - the attributes that
improve higher education for everyone.

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