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June 02, 2003 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2003-06-02

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VIEWPOINT

The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 2, 2003 - 5
And then there were three
JASON PESICK ONE SMALL VOICE

BY LouIE MEIZuSH
One of the harder things to do in
downtown Detroit is cross the street.
No, it's not because the traffic
lights are out and someone will run
you over, but because of the massive
amount of construction going on.
Several streets ar just plain cor-
doned off.
That's not a bad thing though; in
fact, it is definitely a sign that things
are slowly getting better for Detroit.
Some other examples:
+ Compuware Corp. is beginning
to move into its new headquarters
on the site of the old Hudson's
department store, and the city is
beginning construction of a large
park across the street - right now
there aren't really any open spaces
downtown for people to relax.
+ There will be a massive revital-
ization of the riverfront.
+ Abandoned houses are being
torn down and new houses are
springing up.
+ There are more things to do
downtown. There are more shows
coming to the city, and the elec-
tronic music festival is continuing
to draw hundreds of thousands
every year.
+ The old Book-Cadillac Hotel,
abandoned for the last 20 years
remains one of the city's true archi-
tectural gems, and will be the sub-
ject of a renovation and reopening
by Marriott.
One of Detroit's biggest prob-
lems, indeed, has to do with the fact
that few people want to spend any
time there - not to live, not to visit,
not to work, not to hang out. In that
regard, things are slowly but surely
changing.
That's not to say that there aren't
serious problems. Detroit is a poor
city, with more than 21 percent of the
city's residents below the federal
poverty level, which is only $8,590
for a person living alone. Elections
are usually a disaster - long lines,
ballots not getting counted, etc. The
city council is incredibly ineffective.
Its members endlessly bicker among
themselves and have failed to come
to an agreement about building per-
manent casinos.
But it's the scandals surrounding
the mayor and the police department
that could grind development to a
halt. People usually aren't attracted to
places where they see corruption all
around, and things aren't smelling
too good right now.
The state police and attorney
general's office are currently
investigating Mayor Kwame
Kilpatrick's firing of the Detroit
Police Department's chief investi-
gator for internal investigations.
Gary Brown was looking into alle-
gations of possible crimes commit-
ted at the mayor's residence during
a party, as well as possible payroll
fraud and cover-up of auto acci-
dents committed by officers on
Kilpatrick's security detail.
(We'll only briefly mention that
Kilpatrick's security detail is ridicu-
lously huge - 30 full-time officers
devoted solely to his protection. A bit
much, eh?)

Kilpatrick firedBrown on May 13,
without explanation. The firing is
suspicious for two reasons: First,
without extremely good cause, you
usually don't fire the person investi-
gating you, at least without offering a
good explanation. Remember
Richard Nixon? Second, you don't
fire anyone without consulting his or
her immediate superior, in this case
Chief Jerry Oliver, Sr.
A related scandal involves the
Detroit Police Commission, the
five-member, theoretically
autonomous board whose duty it is
to conduct general oversight of the
police department and investigate
allegations of wrongdoing.
That Commission Executive
Director Dante Goss, a buddy of
Kilpatrick's from law school, tam-
pered with the investigation of a
member of Kilpatrick's security
detail, is a bad sign if one hopes to
see a cleaner police department.
According to the investigator
assigned to the case, Goss demanded
to see the questions the officer would
be asked, then prepared the officer
for his interview. (Think of John
Ashcroft calling up bombing suspect
Eric Rudolph a few days ago and say-
ing, "Listen, get the hell out of North
Carolina, because that's where we're
looking")
Kilpatrick and his friends seem to
be intent on weakening the Police
Commission and making it sub-
servient to him. As commisioner
Chair Megan Norris told the Free
Press, Kilpatrick in February orches-
trated the resignations of the previous
executive director and chief investi-
gator as well as the hiring of Goss
and current Chief Investigator
Arnold Sheard, another Kilpatrick
pal. When Commissioner Nathaniel
Head complained about all this, the
mayor booted him off the board.
What a mess. What's worse is that
all of this is going on as the U.S.
Justice Department tries to sort out
corruption, mismanagement and
civil rights violations at the police
department. That investigation has
been going on since 2000.
Much of Detroit's current success
in bringing development to the city
had to do, I believe, with the percep-
tion that former Mayor Dennis
Archer was running a pretty clean
operation, one of which everybody
got a fair shake from city govern-
ment. Business leaders, unions as
well as fellow politicians knew they
could deal with his administration in
an honest manner. His predecessor,
Mayor ColemanYoung, had quite the
opposite reputation, people stayed
away and the deals necessary to
make the city better were never cut.
We'll see if Kilpatrick can clean
things up, or else Detroit's renais-
sance might be short-lived.
Meizlish is thefall
editor in chief of the Daily.

The process of
selecting a new
'. ,. dean for the Uni-
Ir versity's Law School to
replace the outgoing
, Dean Jeffrey Lehman,
who is the incoming
president of Cornell
University, is well under
way. According to mem-
bers of the search advisory committee, the ball
is now in Provost Paul Courant's court. Univer-
sity spokeswoman Julie Peterson has said that
Courant wants to havea candidate selected and
pending approval by the Board of Regents by
the end of June. His selection would then be
subject to approval by the University Board of
Regents. The process has taken on greater
importance because the law school is awaiting
a Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality
of its admissions policies, and the dean would
have to lead the school followingtthat decision.
As the Daily reported on Tuesday, May 27,
the search advisory committee is a nine-mem-
ber panel charged with the task of recommend-
ing candidates to the provost for fatal approval.
Sources from within the committee have con-
firmed that three names were provided to the
provost from a list of six. While the identities of
the three finalists is a tightly held secret -
even the candidates themselves do not seem to
know who the fialists are - the list of the six
candidates consists of University Professor of
Law and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Evan Caminker, who is popular with students
for his support of the law school in the admis-
sions suits and his close relationship with the
student body; University Professor of Law
Steven Croley; University Professor of Law

Christina Whitman, who is a former associate
dean of academic affairs; Harvard Professor of
Law Randall Kennedy, who is considered the
most controversial of the candidates because of
his book "Nigger: The Strange Career of a
Troublesome Word" and is popular among seg-
ments of the student body for his support of
diversity; Columbia Professor of Law Carol
Sanger and Vanderbilt Law School Dean Kent
Syverud, both Law School alums.
Law Prof. Kyle Logue chairs the selection
committee. Other law professors on the com-
mittee are Sherman Clark, Rebecca Eisenberg,
Phoebe Ellsworth, Clinical Professor of Law
Rochelle Lento and Assistant Professor of Law
Richard Primus. Dean of the School of Infor-
mation John King is on the committee as well
as law student and President of the Law
School Student Senate Maren Norton and
alumnus Ronald Olsen.
University searches to fill administrative
positions have recently come under scrutiny for
being excessively secretive. Because of the
Open Meetings Act, the search that resulted in
the selection of Lee Bollinger to become the
University's president was so transparent that
regents could not even meet privately with can-
didates. After the Michigan Supreme Court
struck down the law, the process that selected
University President Mary Sue Coleman was
considered extremely closed. Stories of regents
taking private jets around the country to meet
with candidates left observers with a dirty taste
in their mouths. It seems clear that the public
has the right to receive information regarding
the identities of finalists for a position with the
power to spend millions of tax dollars.
Most students and faculty members with
whom I spoke, including Prof. Clark felt that

the process for selecting the new law school
dean struck the right balance between the need
to insulate the process so that candidates are
willing to enter into it and the desire to have a
fair and transparent process seeking student
input. While the input of about 100 students
was sought, because classes had ended by the
time the list of six candidates was available, it
is unclear whether rank-and-file students have
had knowledge of the process, or whether stu-
dent leaders and members of prominent student
organizations had the unique opportunity to
contribute the majority of the student input.
Even though this process was indeed more
open than similar efforts at other universities, it
is unfortunate that the list was not made public,
as this type of scrutiny can help assure quality
candidates are selected and lessen feelings of
distrust among the public.
Clark and a number of students with whom
I spoke all said that it is important that the new
dean support the law school's admissions poli-
cies and diversity in general. As to whether
there is a desire to have a woman or minority
fill the position so often held by white males,
there is no question that such a selection would
be popular, but ability to do the job well was
cited as the most important factor to take into
consideration.
Chair of the University Board of Regents,
Larry Deitch (D-Bloomfield Hills), had no
comment on the matter, and neither current
Dean Jeffrey Lehman, nor Provost Courant was
available for comment. It's all in the hands of
the provost at this time, so those with opinions
regarding whom he selects should contacthim.
Pesick can be reached at
jzpesick@umich.edu.

Deconstructing affirmative action
AYMAR JEAN No RHYME, JUST REASON

NEW YORK -
onfession: I
used to be
against race-
based college admis-
sions. This was a
result of my incredible
frustration senior year,
having to defend
every college accep-
tance even in light of all my high school
achievements. Colleges, I once thought,
needed to consider socioeconomics rather
than race in admissions.
Too often, when debating affirmative
action, students speak in broad, ideological
prose: "I think people should be admitted on
their ability" and "diversity is necessary."Yet,
these statements are akin to statements like:
"I think justice should be served" with
respect to the death penalty. This column is
my attempt to reinsert reason into this argu-
ment using the information that swayed, but
did not entirely change, my former opinion.
To deconstruct the argument that affirma-
tive action plans are unfair because they
value being a minority over being qualified,
let me state some truths about admissions.
First of all, the University's admissions plan
is not a quota because the percentage of
minorities fluctuates. Furthermore, the
points given to applicants of all types repre-
sent the varying factors in college admis-
sions. Though this does not justify the infa-
mous 20 points (or the infamous 4 and 16
point donations), foundationally, it says that
because there are a plethora of factors in col-

lege admissions, one fact rings true: It's hard
to get into college. There were many other
applicants who got in "over" Gratz and
Hamacher, many of whom were white, so
there must be other factors.
To deconstruct the notion that affirmative
action is reverse discrimination, let me pose
an important question: Can one assume that
one specific minority got in "over" another
applicant? Given the composition of the
undergraduate class, with 5 percent of the
incoming class being black, how can anyone
logically say that one black person "got in
over" one of the thousands of applicants who
didn't get in? The reverse discrimination
argument is unfounded because there simply
aren't that many minority applicants, and
admissions are not inherently comparative.
Eliminating race-based affirmative action
will do nothing more than console rejected
applicants. Studies show that minority
enrollment will fall drastically, while admis-
sion rates for whites will rise marginally.
With existent societal imbalances (imbal-
ances, by the way, that research shows still
exist even at similar income levels), these
admissions disparities are regressive.
There are two arguments for affirmative
action: the fight for diversity and the fight for
the disadvantaged. The diversity argument
only holds water if you consider all appli-
cants equally: equal admissions rates for all
races, religions, etc. What most do not real-
ize, however, is that equal admissions rates
do not imply equal admissions procedures,
and the prospect of providing affirmative
action for factors other than race (i.e. politi-

cal persuasion) is shaky at best. Blacks,
Latinos and in truth, all those who are eco-
nomically disadvantaged, need help, and
affirmative action is an effective, temporary
solution; the permanent solution, in my opin-
ion, is equalizing secondary education. I
liken the program to school vouchers, but
unlike that program, affirmative action has a
noticeable societal impact.
These two arguments form a comprehen-
sive model for how admissions should be
run. It is possible to consider economics and
race, keep admission rates equal, purport
diversity and be fair to every race, while real-
izing the socioeconomic and racial reality of
life in the United States. Research shows that
underrepresented minorities and all other
applicants can benefit from economic affir-
mative action, and by striving for equal
admission while remembering race, we can
maintain diversity and fair play.
Race still matters, and affirtative action
purports - and does not resist -the idea of
a colorblind nation. Demanding colorblind,
economically blind admissions negates the
fact that our nation simply is not equal and
college admissions are multifaceted. To be
honest, the way in which the University con-
ducts admissions is at least unfair, but negat-
ingrace andeven economics as factors isjust
as unsavory.
Few Americans oppose affirmative action
ideologically. So, we must retain our ideals
but remember reality.
Jean can be reached at
acjean@umich.edu.

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