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July 07, 2003 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2003-07-07

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 7, 2003

able Aftlild-tt at

SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editor


Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of
the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

For those looking for examples of per-
sistence paying off, take a glance at the
members of Students Organizing for
Labor and Economic Equality. After months
cof stalemate at the negotiating table, SOLE
has come away with a victory concerning the
treatment of employees at the Toledo branch
of Morgan Linen Services and a potentially
significant new tool for the prevention of
such difficulties: the Purchasing Ethics and
Policies Task Force.
In a contract with the University for
years, Morgan had been doing laundry ser-
vice for the Martha Cook Building, the
Executive Residence of the Business School
and the Law School's Lawyer's Club. The
trouble with Morgan began in October, when
workers at the Toledo division reached out to
SOLE to inform them of their poor work
environment. According to accounts by
Morgan personnel, their low-paying jobs had
required them to work in difficult conditions.
In addition, the employees stated that
Morgan had not provided sick pay or ade-
quate raises to coincide with rising insurance

SOLE's got soul
Coleman must take recommendations seriously

costs. Furthermore, Morgan had clamped
down on the demands of UNITE! (the work-
ers' union), preventing any chance for the
betterment of their predicament. Also,
employees involved in the union reported
being harassed by management.
Without delay, SOLE got in contact with
officials in hopes ofpressuring the University
to discontinue contracts with Morgan and
force Morgan to take the rights of its person-
nel more seriously. After some positive head-
way, such as the creation of an ethical pur-
chasing task force by University President
Mary Sue Coleman, negotiations between
SOLE and the administration came to a
standstill in April, when Coleman agreed
only not to renew any long-term contracts.
This could have allowed the University and
Morgan to continue their partnership

through short-term agreements. Fortunately,
as a result of the relentless demands by
SOLE, the University has broken off all con-
nections with Morgan. This, in turn, will
hopefully force Morgan to create a healthier
labor standards policy for its employees.
Looking back at the Morgan situation,
universities across the nation must realize
that the way they spend money has a major
societal impact, and thus must spend ethical-
ly. If administrations continue to look the
other way, searching for low-cost subcon-
tracts instead of fit labor environments, then
worker rights will continually be jeopar-
dized. This is where the new task force
comes in, and President Coleman must
acknowledge the voice of the task force and
do whatever is necessary to improve dire
work settings - even if it means dealing

with more costly businesses. The task force
should not be used as a delay tactic.
Much depends on the task force. It is
essential to develop a strict code for the
University's vendors, so they know what the
community expects from them in order to
prevent situations like what happened at
Morgan. This code should be an evolution of
the Worker Rights Consortium the University
signed on to years ago, which ensures safety
in working conditions for employees of colle-
giate apparel companies. It should also be
ready not long after the task force is due to
make its policy recommendations at the end
of the coming fall term.
The task force is organizing two public
forums regarding the University's purchasing
policies. The first meeting will take place
Thursday, July 10 from 4-6 p.m. in the
Kuenzel Room of the Michigan Union. The
second has yet to be announced, but will
occur during the fall term. Those planning to
participate should contact Patrick Naswell by
e-mail at patrickn@umich.edu or via phone at
(734) 615-6744. Student participation is vital.

Spare compassion?
Proposed ordinance too harsh, will prove ineffective

School less cool than cash
Young athletes should not avoid the classroom


One of Ann Arbor's distinguishing
features is its accepting and tolerant
atmosphere. People from around the
state flock here for events such as the Ann
Arbor Art Fair, Hash Bash, political rallies
and vigils. The city council, however, may
take action today that would betray this
image by passing an ordinance that would
take a harder line against panhandling. It
would allow police to arrest "aggressive
panhandlers" without a filed complaint.
This ordinance may please some members
of the business community and some of the
city's residents, but this violation of certain
citizens' rights is not a solution to the prob-
lem of homelessness in Ann Arbor. The city
council should reject this ordinance as it is
not in accordance with the city's historic
values and fails to recognize that no one's
rights are less valuable than another's.
Already, there are limits as to where
panhandlers may and may not stand.
Admittedly, the city implemented many of
the current restrictions, such as the one
stating that panhandling is not allowed
within 10 feet of an automated teller
machine, with the intention of protecting
the safety of other citizens. But the current
proposal goes too far.
Currently, victims of aggressive panhan-
dling have to file a formal complaint with
the police department. This can prevent friv-
olous accusations from being made.
Panhandlers in turn, do not, for the most
part, behave violently, in part because of the
possibility of having a complaint filed
against them. In addition, panhandlers are
not inherently dangerous or violent.
If passed, the ordinance would allow
police to use their own discretion to define
"aggressive." Hopefully, the police would
utilize this power only against truly violent

offenders, but to put such power into their
hands would subject panhandlers to poten-
tial discriminatory inconsistency. This is
why the current system, in which citizens
must file a formal complaint, is preferable:
It ensures that only panhandlers who truly
warrant attention take the brunt of the law.
A recent incident of aggressive panhan-
dling resulting in the incarceration of one
bad apple of the panhandling world, Lamark
Curry, has set off a wave of sensationalism
about the dangers of panhandlers. Curry
was charged and sentenced to prison time
for his behavior, which included open intox-
ication and public urination. The new ordi-
nance comes largely in response to this inci-
dent, when in fact, authorities successfully
charged Curry for the offending actions, not
solely for panhandling. While this example
is cited as a reason why the additional pan-
handling regulations are necessary, it proves
that those same regulations are superfluous.
The proposed ordinance also is a suc-
cessful or efficient way of dealing with the
city's homeless problem. There are measures
underway in the area to help the homeless
and addicts rehabilitate themselves, includ-
ing a new homeless shelter. Rehabilitation
and assistance for the homeless is a far more
effective and humane way of preventing sit-
uations such as the Curry incident. It will
also serve a greater good for the city. But in
the same vein as supporting their rehabilita-
tion, residents should support panhandler's
freedoms; they are people who deserve
equal rights as does any other citizen.
Being a stronghold of progressive
thought, Ann Arbor is not a city many would
expect to pass such stringent city ordi-
nances. Officials should reject this reactive
piece of legislation and recognize the rights
of all those who call Ann Arbor home.

She can drive a ball over 300 yards,
has already won an adult tourna-
ment, has no intention of playing
against other girls - or women for that
matter, and get this, she's only 13. He
already has a contract with Nike for $1
million, has been training with the U.S.
national soccer team and too is only 13
years old. Finally, the saving grace for a
Michael Jordan-less NBA market is the
18-year-old high school phenom from
Ohio who has already penned a whop-
ping $90 million contract with Nike.
Who are they? Golfer Michelle Wie,
soccer player Freddy Adu and basketball
player LeBron James. Besides being
young stars, they all have something else
in common: They will all likely forgo
college. While this is probably not a
great societal message and college
should be a priority for the nation's
youth, there is a double standard in the
way observers view the issue.
In an age of big money contracts,
elaborate marketing schemes and down
right shameful exploitation of talent
potential, education is often forgotten.
For James, college was never more than
just media talk for a youngster who was
actively scouted for the majority of his
high school career. As for soccer's won-
der boy from Ghana, Adu, college is not
much of a consideration either. By sign-
ing a contract with Nike, Adu is ensur-
ing that he will not play in college
because it violates NCAA rules. How
well Wie walks the trail remains to be
seen, but we can only imagine.
Though basketball players typically
get most of the flak for not completing
their educational paths, it happens very
often in many major sports. In fact,

many parents today are grooming their
children to be golf's next Tiger Woods
or the tennis's next Pete Sampras and
certainly the next basketball star Kobe
Bryant without including college in
their plans, even though most of their
children will never achieve the fame
and riches that they desire. Though
Woods attended Stanford as an econom-
ics major, he left early after a string of
first place tournament finishes to focus
solely on his remarkable game. Bryant
was the highly touted high school stu-
dent who was going to bring his big-
time Philly game to the pros without
exploring the option of college. And
Sampras didn't even bother finishing
high school before he made the jump
into the world of professional tennis.
If someone hangs a $10 million car-
rot in front of a teenager's face and he
hasn't tasted of its lucrative nutrients
before, then certainly he will be
inclined to give it a try. Undoubtedly,
there are countless other examples of
impoverished youths who have gone
professional without a college degree,
and sometimes without a high school
Many athletes, from various sports,
including tennis star Venus Williams,
football player Emmitt Smith and bas-
ketball's Vince Carter, have gone back
to college and received their degrees.
What a powerful statement it was for
basketball star Vince Carter to not only
finish his education, but to attend the
graduation ceremony on the eve of the
biggest playoff game of his career.
Though it caused a somewhat sour
media buzz from basketball fans, some
youths surely took note.


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