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November 20, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-20

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 20, 1995

(Tbr dI~uiguu &i Ig

JAms M. NAsH

ON THE RECORD

420 Maynard
Ann Arbor, MI

Street
48109

Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

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

The t'n.lA ofa student body
president in, search ofhIi ideals

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion ofa majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles letters, and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
A done deal
Code's passage signals new, baffles ahead

he sun has set on Code deliberations -
at least for now. The University Board
of Regents voted Friday in favor of the now-
infamous Code of Student Conduct. Ulti-
mately, the Code was punched through the
board with the ease of a brick through a glass
wall, with Regent Deane Baker (R-Ann Ar-
bor) making a lonely last stand against it. For
better or worse, University students must
now abide by the document - though they
had little say in its creation.
Left to ponder the events that led to the
vote, students may ask two questions: how
and why? Unfortunately, the answers may
prove to be just as frustrating as the ultimate
result of the vote. Cowardice, a mediocre
level of student representation and barely
veiled threats were key forces for proponents
of a statement of non-academic conduct.
First, the code workgroup-the individu-
als either credited with or blamed for penning
the document's first draft - failed to elimi-
nate doubts about the Code when given the
opportunity to address the regents prior to the
vote. Then University President James J.
Duderstadt dealt the final blow to Code op-
ponents by ominously predicting the
University's loss of accreditation should the
Code be defeated. This statement is both
false and politically motivated. The Univer-
sity is currently an accredited institution and
- while the lack of a code may curry disfa-
vor with the accreditation committee - its
status is unlikely to change. Duderstadt's use
of accreditation as a bargaining chip was
especially unfair in light of its convenient
timing - he threw this new pro-code argu-
ment into the debate just before the vote.
Even if the regents were not prepared to
eliminate a code altogether, they had a chance
to design a safeguard mechanism. Baker pro-
posed an amendment presented by Michigan
Student Assembly Students' Rights Com-
mission Chair Anne Marie Ellison that would
have struck the Code after three years and

called for re-evaluation or a complete rewrite
- if nothing was designed to replace it, the
default would be no code. But the "sunset"
clause was defeated - denying Code oppo-
nents any hope of redemption. Instead, the
Code will merely be evaluated in three years,
but will remain a permanent policy unless the
regents ever decide otherwise.
While the Code is now hopelessly perma-
nent, the University can still take steps to
ensure that the upcoming evaluation is as
accurate as possible. Records must be open
to the public so that cases may be fairly
assessed. A veil of secrecy only distorts the
full picture of Code operations.
Students have missed out on the process
thus far. The workgroup that authored the
Code gauged student opinion by taking only
a 500-student sample of questionable ran-
domization - a minute 1.4 percent of the
student body. Yet blame for the lack of
student voice also falls to MSA, which should
have sent a delegation to Friday's vote. In-
stead, because President Flint Wainess missed
the meeting due to an emergency, there was
no student voice there. This was a despicable
failure on what was perhaps the biggest deci-
sion to affect students for years to come.
Although the Code is now entrenched,
student activism is essential to provide as fair
an implementation of the policy as possible.
A student advisory panel must evolve into a
powerful voice and fight for open records,
open hearings and other issues to help protect
students under the Code.
Student representation prior to the vote
was abysmal - the results are lamentable
and students are left only with questions.
How the Code was passed is easy to deter-
mine - the regents voted for it. Why they did
is considerably more upsetting: No one per-
suaded them not to. Now it is the students'
job to step up where others failed and make
the best of the bad policy known as the Code
of Student Conduct.

ity Flint Wainess.
In the past month, the Michigan Student
Assembly president has been slammed by
MSA representatives, even members of his
own party; cowed into silence by regents;
vilified in the Daily and nearly stripped of
his role as MSA's Code spokesperson.
All this for his position -or should isay
positions - on the Code of Student Con-
duct. Wainess says he was just being prag-
matic: opposing the concept of a non-aca-
demic student behavior policy while work-
ing to amend the Code the Board of Regents
ended up approving Friday.
Critics accuse Wainess of selling out to
the University administration. Was it just
coincidence, they ask, that Wainess accepted
University money last summer as a partici-
pant in the Leadership 2017 program? And,
they ask, why has Wainess been so inconsis-
tent in articulating MSA's position on the
Code?
No wonder Wainess feels crucified.
Politics has been called the art of Qom-
promise. A politician by nature must bend
his ideals to fit a particular situation. Politi-
cians routinely are accused of selling out.
Wainess, perhaps more than any of his
predecessors, has cast himself in a political
mold. He has finessed the details ofa student
health-care plan he helped develop with the
administration. He has exercised his author-
ity as chair of meetings to steer debate in a

favorable direction. Wainess has cut deals
with rivals over language in MSA's budget
and funding to various organizations.
Most fatally, Wainess essentially cut a
deal with the administration over the Code:
I don't like your Code and probably never
will, but I'll accept it as long as the following
changes are made. Wainess, who fought
valiantly and successfully to empanel a stu-
dent representative to the Board of Regents,
saw that role reduced to almost nothing as he
silently stood by while the Code was adopted.
When a regent asked Wainess to publicly
address the board about the Code, the MSA
president fumbled for answers, saying he
had not prepared a statement on the draft the
regents were about to vote on. Earlier,
Wainess wrote the regents a memo in which
he called the Code "80 percent successful."
That, Wainess insists, does not contra-
dict his fundamental belief that no conduct
code has a place on campus. I should hope
not. While he was an editorial page editor of
this newspaper, Wainess spoke and wrote
eloquently against the code many times. He
ran for MSA president on a strongly anti-
code platform similar to that of any credible
student political party.
Such rhetoric melted in recent weeks as
Wainess cooperated with a student
workgroup on revising the Code. Once the
final draft was approved by the regents.
Wainess was left to tell, the Detroit Free

Press: "l was hoping there would be more
opportunity to review the details." That isnt
exactly a ringing proclamation for student
rights, but then again, Wainess hasn't been
making that sort of proclamation lately. H-
narrowly escaped MSA censure just over
two weeks ago when some members, upset
over his waffling on the Code, backed- a
motion to appoint a new spokesperson on
the issue. That motion died, not necessarily
out of support for Wainess, but because
many members wanted to present a united
front to the regents. Still, MSA Student
Rights Commission Chair Anne Marie
Ellison pointedly hailed a faculty leader for
speaking in favor of student rights "and our
leader didn't."
Did Wainess have a political epiphany
sometime between his editorship and the
last regents meeting? No, he maintains, just
a realization that politics is quite different
from splashing your ideals across a sheet of
newsprint. Wainess, who has closely fol-
lowed the tribulations of President Clinton,.
should have come to terms with that differ-
ence long before he ran for MSA. Clinton
has been criticized by observers, Wainess
included, for backing down from his ideals
in the face of political pressure. The bitter
irony is that Wainess has done the same
thing.
-James M. Nash can be reached over
e-mail atjnash@umich.edu. -

11

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JI LASSER

SHARP AS TOAST
CALVIN, WHAT S TH IS?

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LETTERS

Hung out to dry
MSA President Wainess fails as student voice

A s the first non-voting student represen-
tative to the University Board of Re-
gents, Michigan Student Assembly President
Flint Wainess was called to the table last
week to speak about the new Code of Student
Conduct. Students were counting on Wainess
to represent their unheard voices to the board
before the rewrite of the statement of non-
academic behavior went up for a vote. Instead
of voicing constituents' concerns, however,
Wainess had not prepared a formal commen-
tary. Speaking off the top of his head, he did
not present a strong opposition to the Code,
saying it was better than previous drafts.
Granted, it is unlikely that opposition from
Wainess would have persuaded the regents to
abandon their quest for a student conduct
cede. Regents overwhelmingly supported the
Code despite objections from the American
Civil Liberties Union and various campus
leaders. But by giving the board no substan-
tial input while acting as the elected president
ofMSA and-more important -the official
student voice, Wainess misrepresented the
student body as apathetic and unaware of the
Code's civil rights violations.
In reality, students have rarely agreed on
anything as much as their opposition to con-
duct codes at the University. Last spring,
student groups united and organized a rally to
oppose the earlier code - the Statement of
Student Rights and Responsibilities. While

the new Code is a slight improvement, it still
has not resolved some of the shortcomings
that so incensed students.
Students needed a strong leader at the
regents' meeting to press for further revi-
sions to the Code. Wainess acknowledged
this position last week: "The regents have
said there will be a code, so trying to fight
having a code is futile. I have been working
to improve the Code so that maybe it will
protect a few more students."
Why, then, did Wainess falter? The ques-
tion is especially relevant since Wainess
fought both for the installation of a student
regent and for the MSA president to fill that
post. Earlier this month, some MSA mem-
bers proposed sending someone else to rep-
resent students. Wainess prevailed - to the
detriment of student interests on the Code.
Wainess claims that compromise with the
administration was necessary to craft the
least harmful code. True - but his actions
were less compromise than complicity.
Wainess' folly in such a crucial time calls
into question his function as student repre-
sentative. His negligence may have cost stu-
dents a viable opportunity to have the Code
amended. Moreover, Wainess set a prece-
dent of waffling and indifference for future
student representatives and thus jeopardized
what could be -ifused properly -the most
powerful student voice on campus.

Feds chipping
away at free
expression
To the Daily:
Well, here we are again. It's
almost a year later, and the feds
are once again thinking of knock-
ing on Jake Baker's door. His
case is especially important right
now, since another threat to
American freedom of expression
has happened at Cal Tech, where
a student was recently expelled
from school for harassment of an
ex-girlfriend over e-mail.
I guess if our email is going to
be monitored, everything else
must be too, to be fair. So, wel-
come to the age of Big Brother.
Wire taps on phones must be com-
monplace, so that we can prevent
anything that someone might
deem offensive from being trans-
mitted over state lines via phone
line. That would be a federal of-
fense, now wouldn't it'? I have a
feeling that many in Congress
who create and pass shortsighted
laws such as the ones that caused
Jake Bakerto be met at class by
cops would feel uneasy if their
late night900-number phone calls
were monitored. Aren't there
phone lines that feature baby-
voiced women? Isn't that a form
of child porn? Why aren't those
forms of"expression" being simi-
larly monitored?
We'll have to burn books too,
and have each new work of litera-
ture go through arigorous screen-
ing process with an ethics com-
mittee. Aren't books often trans-
mitted over state lines? That
would mean that creating any-
thingdthat was offensive to any-
one a federal crime.
So, I guess great author Phillip
Roth would go to jail. His new
book "Sabbath's Theater" has a
scene where a professor has phone
sex with a student. Who else

of the reasoning in the Jake Baker
case: The feds think "OK, this
guy's probably a little unbal-
anced, so let's harass him, make a
big media circus out of the whole
thing, get him kicked out of
school, send him to prison, then
send him back to rural Ohio where
can really go nuts! !!"
Oh boy. Gotta watch what I
say. l'm sending this letter over
e-mail.
Joy A. Burnett
LSA senior
affirmative
action critic
draws wrong
analogies
To the Dally:
I'm writing in response to Avi
Ebenstein's article titled "Affir-
mative action: Death of
meritocracy" (11/16/95). Al-
though Mr. Ebenstein' s argument
seems initially plausible, there are
fatal flaws in his reasoning con-
cerning "merit."
Ebenstein argues that race or
gender should not beta factor in
anything: sports, death row, em-
ployment and education. He states
that there are disproportionate
numbers of men and women on
death row, and disproportionate
numbers of blacks and Cauca-
sians in the NBA. He assumes
there must be a reason why, per-
haps inherent differences.
He assumes that affirmative
action programs will force more
women to be on death row, and
force NBA teams to incorporate
more white players. In this, he
implies the existence of immu-
table differences between races
and genders. He attempts to analo-
gize these two situations with
employment and schooling. He
ultimately concludes that affir-
mative action is erroneous and

Caucasian.
2) Although it's possible That
there are inherent differences be-
tween races, emotional, physical
or intellectual, the environment
masks any differences and is far
more powerful in determiningthe
characters of individuals. Socio-
psychological arguments aside,
men being on death row is the
reflection of menu being
externalizers, and women being
internalizers. When dien have
problems they get ahgry and
aggress, when women have prob-
lems, they retreat and get de-
pressed. Perhaps the preponder-
anice of blacks in the NBA is a
reflection ofa racist society which
socializes blacks to think the only
way to success is throug' athlet-
ics. Perhaps, the young black chil-
dren who see more blacks in the
NBA see that as a possible av-
enue for exploration more often
than say, ice hockey orsome other
field with a dearth of blacks, e~g.
white-collar workplace. Perhaps,
blacks have more inherent physi-
cal prowess, or men are naturally
have penchants for murder. Nev-
ertheless, you have to taikb many
factors into consideration, but one
cannotjust assume races and gen-
ders are immutably different, as
Ebenstein does.
In short, Ebenstein's analogy
between NBA/death row and edu-
cation/jobs, fails. He also fails to
understand the scope of affirma-
tive action. Mr. Ebenstein, please
sharpen your understanding ofthe
affirmative action issue.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE
'I would appoint
Ross Perot U.S
ambassador to
the U.N., because
they deserve
each other.'
- Radio commentat'
Rush Limbaugh, on what
he would do if elected
president
4 .
the tragedy was a Jewish tragedy
The assassination of Prime Min-
ister Rabin, of blessed memory,
is not a Jewish tragedy any more
than the assassination of Martin
Luther King Jr. was a tragedy fr
the African American commu-
nity alone. Every peace lover
throughout the world mourns the
deaths of both of these men. I
must also take issue with Mr.
Friedman's belittlement of the
vigil held on the Diag on Mon-
day, Nov. 6, in Mr. Rabin's honor.
In his words the Diag memorial
service attracted "only a few hun-
dred mourners." Five hundred is
not the whole University, but it is
a lot of people. I was at the Mon-
dayeveningmemorial serviceand
was touched to see so many people
come together for the sake of re-
membering one man. Mr.
Friedman, in the few words he
composed to accompany his pho-
tographs, went on to follow the
above statement that such a small
proportion of the local Jewish
community turning out "may fore-
shadow a division among Jews
throughout the world." The fact
that Mr. Friedman emphasized
the number of Jewish mourners
present on the Diag compared to
the total number in Ann Arbor
only serves to make those same.
divisions he fears more prom i-,
nent. By emphasizing the disen-
sion and disagreements that exist
in the Jewish community, as thy
exist in all communities, and 2ot
Rabin's lifelong struggle ft-a
peaceful Israel, Mr. Friedman
concedes victory to Yigal Aiir's
bullets. If we forget that the late
Prime Minister Rabin dedicated
his life to fighting for the security
and peace of Israel, we forget the
guiding spirit that led Israel to the
brink of peace that she standson
today. To forget Yitzhak Rabih's
legacy of peace is to forget the
man. In trying to honor Yitzhak
Rabin, Mr. Friedman only dican
injustice to the late Mr. Rabin, to

Zeno Lee
LSA senior

1

P hotostory
belittles
Rabin legacy
To the Daily:
I am writing in response to

How TO CONTACT THEM
Vice President for Student Affairs Maureen A. Hartford
rNC Z: A --s .i--+-+;- Ditr i;riin-

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