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November 15, 1995 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-15

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 15, 1995
G~b £Irbiwn aU

JORDAN STANCIL

LAST-DITCH APPEAL

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

MICHAEL ROSENBERG
Editor in Chief
JULIE BECKER
JAMES M. NASH
Editorial Page Editors

Thnefoats has changed ini the code
debate: from advetsan0i oz'n

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of a majority of the Daily 's editorial board. All
other articles, letters, and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
DAY OF DECISION

A fatally flawed Code heads to the regents
he road to hell is paved with good inten- sity deems consistent with "privacy right
I.tions. Concealing some evidence makes sense
In ordering a policy to govern non-aca- perficially, but underneath it gives the U
demic student behavior, University regents versity power to selectively share evide
professed the best ofintentions. They wanted - a power that violates every existing pr
Ito maintain "civility," "dignity," "respect" ciple of legal fair play. Furthermore, the l
'and other admirable values in an academic of records about previous cases preclui
community. In the process, they created a any knowledge based on precedent. How
monster: a set of rules that can be stretched to the University claim to protect students w
suit almost any purpose, a bogus court that it lacks even a basic understanding of w
clumsily tries to duplicate the U.S. legal does and does not constitute protection?
system and a list of punishments that don't U U
orecessarily fit the crime. In three years of discussion and revis
The Board of Regents wisely voted to on the code, Vice President for Student
scrap that original Statement ofStudent Rights fairs Maureen A. Hartford's office has ne
iind Responsibilities. But now they are con- produced a satisfactory document. The r
Zsidering a new code - a document that son is clear: There can never be one. 1
despite whatever good intentions may have concept of a non-academic conduct cod
gone into its creation, brings the University inherently flawed. From "killing" to "v
4one step closer to a legal netherworld. dalizing University property," the violati
When the proposed Code of Student Con- covered are duplicated in state and fede
duct reaches the regents' table tomorrow, it law, a system that after 200 years still
could be the final battle in a drawn-out policy ironing out its own loopholes. Rather ti
war. Since the code conquest began almost leave the judicial system to do its job,
eight years ago, the non-academic behavior Office of Student Affairs presumes to sup
I statement has shuttled from panel to commit- sede that system with a woefully inadequ
tee to office to board,- and then back again, facsimile.
often with revisions. The latest and perhaps The University cannot be governed as
final draft goes to the regents tomorrow with island. The legal system exists for a reas
the unqualified support It applies to Univ
of University President D sity students as it d
James J. Duderstadt and v to other citize
at least reluctant accep- While imperfect, i
tance by Michigan Stu- far better than a
dent Assembly President thing the Univer
Flint Wainess. Those could devise, m
dubious credentials wyyless implement.
alone may persuade the In ordering the
regents to implement the ministration to rew
Code as a permanent policy. the code, the regents expressed a desire
That would be a grave mistake. simplify the document while staying con
The new statement is little better than the tent with the law. They have achieved
interim policy rejected last spring. If the first goal: The new code is much more
regents insist on adopting a code, they must catch-all policy than the old, leaving1
also insist on a better statement than this one. University a dangerous amount of discret
An amateur could dissect the proposed on which actions it may punish. But add
code piece by piece, pointing out contradic- layers of detail to the document - speci
tions, faulty logic and dangerous loopholes. ing the "crimes" against the University
In the violations section, for example: Letter would be self-defeating as well, serving o
L inthe latest version holds students account- to bring the code closer to local and state b
able for actions "violating state or federal law The dilemma of flexibility vs. specifi
if such action has serious impact on the is a red herring: Either the code is va
;University community." How is "violating" enough to allow for gross abuses or so w
defined? Does it mean a conviction, or does defined as to be redundant. The Univer
it encompass no-contest pleas or even acquit- entrusted Hartford and a workgroup cons
kIals? If a student is acquitted of a sexual ing of a handful of rookies to handle t
harassment charge in criminal court, could dilemma, even though none of them has
:that student later be brought up under the experience or education required to write
:Code on a charge of stalking, irrespective of kind of document the regents seem to w
*sthe outcome of the criminal trial? And what If the regents wanted to build a new
is a "serious impact" - and who decides? dent union, would they hire an architec
Code supporters argue that "serious" can be would they ask Hartford to get together w
defined by the hearing panel, but how will a union workgroup and come up wit]
they keep from dragging the accused through design? The principle is the same: If
many layers of Code bureaucracy before this regents insist on having a code, they sho
happens? at least put the task of writing it in the ha
' These are only a tiny sampling of the of true professionals - people who un
questions that demand answers. Similar holes stand the rights of all those involved in a c
plague the list of sanctions. For example: and are least likely to infringe upon th
Sanction D, which prohibits or limits em- rights.
ployment with the University, is born of Instead, for four years administrators h
reasonable intentions. If a student inhibits pretended to be experts. They have fooled
other employees' ability to perform their one.

jobs, then the offender should be terminated The only code Hartford and other adm
from that position. But what about work- istrators have proved they are able to draf
study jobs? These are part of financial aid one that tramples on the rights of stude:
packages, and the University is required by But given their insistence that a code ex
law to provide them as a means of income. the current draft does not fulfill even
Suspending a student from all possible em- educational purpose the regents have
ployment within the University could, in signed it.
effect, suspend them from the University. Administrators have had more ti
Have the code writers taken this into ac- enough chance to write an acceptable co
count? Doubtful. They have flunked. Before the regentsc
Under the current draft, students would be even consider rubber-stamping a cond
barred from opening procedures to the pub- policy, legal experts must disentangle it fr
lic. Students also have no access to nrior the web ofcontradictions.infringements

su-
Jni-
ace
rin-
ack
des
can
hen
hat
ion
Af-
ver
ea-
The
e is
an-
ons
,ral
I is
han
the
)er-
ate
an
on:
er-
oes
ns.
t is
ny-
sity
uch
ad-
rite
to
sis-
the
Af a
the
ion
ing
ify-
nly
aw.
city
gue
ell-
sity
ist-
this
the
the
ant.
stu-
t or
vith
h a
the
uld
nds
der-
ase
ose
ave
no
in-
ft is
nts.

Kist,
the
as-
han
ade.
can
[uct
'om
and

When I started school here three years
ago, the most important political is-
sue on campus was the non-academic con-
duct code. Many students, including me,
wanted no code at all. We believed there was
no need for any code other than the federally
mandated sexual assault and alcohol poli-
cies. The administration's push for a code
was seen as, at best, a bumbling attempt to
fix things that weren't broken and, at worst,
as a monumental power grab. I did not real-
ize then that the code's worst effect would be
to make a mockery out the University and to
insult our intelligence. Perhaps I should have
seen this coming. After all, there were some
early clues.
During my freshman year, then-new Vice
President for Student Affairs Maureen A.
Hartford said that the question was not
whether to have a code, but rather what kind.
It started to become clear that 1990s-style
student opposition, which does not include
anything more radical than the writing of
newspaper columns, meant absolutely noth-
ing to the administration. It was not possible
to stop the idea of a code.
Of course, at that time the administration
refused to refer to the code as a code. I
remember one conversation I had with then-
law student Mary Lou Antieau, who over-
sees the administration of the code. Every
time I mentioned the word "code," she
interrrupted me and said "statement." This
linguistic cleansing was apparently an at-
tempt to dissociate the old Statement of
Student Rights and Responsibilities from
the University's unconstitutional speech
codes ofthe late 1980s. Ofcourse, semantics
didn't really matter, and the code/statement
went into effect despite all opposition.

Now there is a new draft of the code, and
this time they call it a code. Very few people
on this campus care. Very few people have
even read the new draft, but they should. In
fact, I hope every student on campus reads
the proposed code. That's because I have
enough faith in the education the faculty
provide that I am certain that every student,
if he or she reads it, will be disgusted and
embarrassed by the document. The proposed
draft is not, to borrow English Prof. Leo
McNamara's phrase, a "literate document."
Ironically, considering the potential for
abuse inherent in the code, it makes for a
rather humorous read. Under the heading
"Student Rights," we find that "Students at
the University of Michigan have the same
rights and protections under the Constitu-
tions of the United States and the State of
Michigan as other citizens."
Oh. I'm glad they included that. I've
been hoping the University wouldn't rein-
vigorate the nullification controversy. "These
rights include freedom of expression, press,
religion, and assembly." A truncated list of
constitutional rights, which should say,
"these rights include, but are not limited to
..." Or maybe the code-writers failed to
read beyond the First Amendment.
Things get really ridiculous in the sec-
tion titled "Violations." This is a list of
"behaviors which (sic) contradict the essen-
tial values of the University community
includ[ing], but not limited to the following
..." It would be hard to come up with a better
parody of a legal system. The enumerated
rights are all we get, but the list of violations
is theoretically unlimited. I'm no law stu-
dent, but I thought everybody - certainly
everybody at a university -knew that laws

are struck down ifthey are unclear as to what.
a person may not do. Citizens have a right to
know what the law is. They can't be held
accountable for breaking a rule that falls
under "not limited to." Luckily, the federal
Constitution has more than one amendment.
The list of violations would be funny -
if the code were a joke. It contains no defini
tions that would give a reasonable person
any idea which behaviors are proscribed. At
the bottom of the list, it says, "While some of
the above violations may use (sic) the same
terms as local, state, or federal statutes,
those Code violations do not necessarily
possess the same defintions as their non
University counterparts." Right. Because
"non-University counterparts" have
defintions in the first place.
The bottom line is that the new code is a
blueprint for a kangaroo court. And it's not
even a clever blueprint. It's the kind of
administrative law mumbo-jumbo one would
expect to find in the Burger King employee
manual -but not at the University ofMichi
gan.
Student politicians have decided to work
with the administration in order to reach the,
least bad code. They might think that prin-
cipled opposition to any code would simply
give the administration a blank check to
make things worse.
Maybe they're right. All I know is I'm
glad I'm not a politician. I have the luxury of
retaining my own opposition to any code,
and I don't have to share responsibility for
the creation of the embarrassing document
that is being foisted on this "community of
scholars" by mediocre bureaucrats.
- Jordan Stancil can be reached over
email at rialto@umich.edu

JIM LASSER

SHARP AS TOAST

LETTERS

NOTABLE QUOTABLE
'The (salary)
difference
between faculty
and
administration
continues a trend
that is adverse to
the welfare of the
University. It is a
trend that is
going in the
wrong direction.'
--George Brewer,
chairman of the Senate
Committee on
University Affairs

Daily belittles
issues of race
within MSA
To the Daily:
The Daily's casual dismissal
of the United People's Coalition
party sends a strong message to
our community: Your issues are
not our concern. As a founding
member of the Students' Party, I
have been subjected to many rude
Daily statements, but never one
so remarkably condescending and
nearly racist.
The UPC submitted a dedi-
cated and informed platform with
one goal in mind: to get student of
color issues addressed by putting
students of color on the assem-
bly. The Daily assumes that they
are targeting a takeover of the
assembly to the exclusion of other
student issues. This is hardly the
case. The UPC is not even run-
ning enough candidates to stop a
vote requiring 2/3 approval.
While the fact that parties have
seldom addressed student ofcolor
concerns in their platforms has
never stopped a Daily endorse-

Not only did you "dismiss"
the seriousness of their candi-
dacy wholly disempowering their
attempts at participation, you went
as far as endorsing Mr. Liggins
-who has not evenjoined MSA's
Minority Affairs Commission -
as the representative of multi-
culturalism on the assembly. I
respect Mr. Liggins' work on the
assembly and his presence as a
student of color, but your attitude
promotes tokenism to a disgust-
ing extreme.
The Daily needs to closely
examine its approach to political
problems of race on this campus
and immediately stop "dismiss-
ing" valid attempts to correct
them.
Conan Smith
Students' Party
RC senior
M SA election
deserves
more press
To the Daily:
1 ....E -A . L.1 _ e, ,

few columns here and there that
you have done have not even
begun to explore the many is-
sues that are on the line in this
campaign.
You seem to make obvious
the fact that you do not believe
that these elections carry any im-
portance. Contrary to belief, MSA
elections are, the most important
thing that is happening on cam-
pus.
MSA is the students' voice
on campus. If you cannot even
recognize the legitimacy of this
instiution, then how are Univer-
sity students going to give it any
credibilty? This is your responsi-
bility. I believe that your failure
in addressing these issues leads
to a weak student government;
and consequently, a weak stu-
dent voice in the administra-
tion.
The Daily should be ashamed,
absolutely ashamed that voter
turnout is so low. The primary
reason why the turnout is low is
that students are generally unin-
formed about the issues and do
not understand what MSA does.
However, I must commend
you on your occasional editorials

Union, the code, etc. But-you
must take the extra step and ex-
plain how these issues figure .in
with the campaign in an objective
fashion.
The fact is that MSA will die
without a significant interest by
the students. We can only i41-
form so many ourselves. It 4is
your job to inform the students'
about issues that matter to them.
News. That's what it is all about,
right?
MSA will never have any
credibility with the regents until
turnout increases. The regents ab-
solutely love the current situa-
tion. Whenever we claim to ha've
the support of the entire studdnt
body, the regents can sit back gn
point out the turnout rates. What
are we supposed to do? Editorials
and columns are the wood, liut
MSA is the fire.
I would like to see significant
coverage in the next couple of
days. The front page should juist
be plastered with the issues abd
reasons why students need 'to
vote.
It is imperative that you, the
press ofthis University, takemore
responsibilty.

ment, it would seem the opposite I must admit that I am rather that shed light on such issues as idde Stella
is true here. You at the Daily dismayed at your coverage of Student Legal Services, health
should be ashamed. the MSA elections this year. The care, the Ann Arbor Tenants' LSA first-year student
MSA elections are today and tomorroW
The Michigan Daily endorses:

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