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September 14, 1995 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-14

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 14, 1995
Ann Arbor, Ml 48109 Editor in Chief
Edited and managed by JULIE BECKER
students at the JAMES M. NASH
University of Michigan Editorial Page Editors
'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.
Legislation fthreatens -TAbarganig fights



Under cover ofdarkness,
dangers and dedsibn lurk

With one stroke of the pen, the Michi-
gan Legislature could essentially de-
stroy unions representing all of the state's
public employees - including the Graduate
Employees' Organization (GEO), which rep-
resents teaching assistants at the University.
House Bill 4993, currently under discussion
in the Human Resources and Labor Commit-
tee, would deny all employees ofpublic higher
learning institutions the right to employ col-
leeive bargaining on nearly every issue of
concern. The bill would prohibit staff from
using the strategy to protect their interests in
such vital matters as health care, decisions
about tenure policy and workload require-
ments. Unions would be effectively gagged
and therefore rendered useless.
By tilting the balance heavily in favor of
management, Bill 4993 would make a mock-
ery of the process of arbitration. The gag on
collective bargaining would make it nearly
inpossible for unions to even reach a point of
inipasse with management. And even if this
point were reached, the employees would
then be forced to accept management's last
best offer - all other mediation would be
eliminated. Furthermore, once a contract ex-
pires, employers would be able to bypass the
union and hire nonunion workers -to whom
they would not be obligated to offer the
conditions guaranteed by the contract.
In addition, under the bill the most acute
weapon employed by workers -the strike
- would no longer be feasible. Not only
would each individual striker lose an addi-
tional day's pay for every day of lost work,
the union would be heavily fined. Admit-

tedly, strikes are disruptive and altogether
undesirable for all involved. At the Univer-
sity, a GEO strike would paralyze the school,
hurting students and faculty alike. However,
strikes still represent the single best threat of
any union. It is important to realize that
strikes at universities are highly rare-rather,
unions use the threat of a strike to protect
their employees. Bringing negotiations to the
brink of striking point pressures employers
to take union demands seriously. Bill 4993
would make this threat laughable, as no union
could withstand the financial strain.
Through the GEO, teaching assistants at
the University have fought for and won rea-
sonable demands concerning health care and
pay raises. Weakened by Bill 4993, TAs
would be at the mercy of the University's
petty contract offers. Without collective bar-
gaining, TAs could stand to lose what pre-
cious little they have.
By destroying the bargaining rights of the
TAs, Bill 4993 would affect the quality ofthe
University as a whole. Unsatisfied TAs are
less likely to work as hard. The graduate
program would attract fewer students, since
many depend upon a teaching position to
fund their education. Ultimately, the
University's large undergraduate body would
suffer from a loss of qualified teaching per-
This bill must be defeated. The Michigan
Student Assembly is working, through its
lobbying firm, against the bill. This work
should continue. Legislators in Lansing must
hear the message that Bill 4993 needs to be

A woman trying to get home at night
finds herself in quite a predicament
these days. If she chooses to walk home
alone she may be accused of stupidity, or of
trying to make a statement.
If she chooses to have someone walk her
home she becomes dependent.
Of course she could disregard the judg-
ments and stereotyping her actions may in-
duce and merely act on gut instinct.
Take the woman who chooses to walk
somewhere alone at night, only to regret her
decision halfway there when she finds her-
self the target of catcalls and threats, or the
woman who endures a little grabbing and
patting at a party to avoid walking home
alone, or the woman who, rather than tackle
the question at that crucial hour, stays in at
night to study, watch a movie, read a book.
Walking alone at night, we are told, is
often unsafe for both men and women; how-
ever, we are additionally cautioned, no one
has the right to infringe on another person's
right to walk alone.
As for the concept of just taking a walk
- a non-directional, thought-provoking,
mind-clearing jaunt-past sundown: forget
about it. Not even up for discussion.
Men are stuck in a bit of a quandary as
well, although granted not to the same de-
gree. He who lets her walk home alone is
uncaring, irresponsible, a wimp. He who
does not is controlling, chauvinistic, a creep.
Not to mention a guy who's tired, extremely
busy, or a little queasy himselfabout making
the return trip alone.

Yes, the University does sponsor effec-
tive, albeit limited, options - Safewalk,
Ride Home and the Nite Owl - and should
be commended for helping to provide these
valuable and underused services.
Yet the fact remains that most students
find themselves at one end of the late night
question on a regular basis, and for a variety
of reasons do not choose one of the
University's options.
What can we do, we wonder. Put more
DPS officers in the Diag, more lights in the
Law Quad, a blue-light phone in the arb.
If only the night question were limited to
Ann Arbor, our quaint little college town,
then all could be contained, controlled, dif-
fused. Instead, this is a problem that affects
women -and thinking men - everywhere,
all the time. Whether or not to take the
subway, cross the parking ramp, wait at the
bus stop, go to the laundromat, run to the
corner store, see a movie, fill up at a gas
station, and on and on and on.
Hey, you, high school punks who thought
it was funny to shove me against a pole, grab
my belongings, and run away laughing -
find something better to do on your Saturday
nights. Hey, you, guy in the baseball cap
who proved to himself and his friend how
easily a woman on campus can be scared by
grabbing me as I, ironically enough, left a
Take Back the Night meeting - get your
power-kicks by playing video games or
watching Rocky.
Hey, you.
The fact of the matter is, other than the

slow but sure restructuring of society, creat-
ing one in which women are valued as active
and equal beings, I have no solution.
Often, I cross campus alone at night;
sometimes I do not. Often, I take my clunky
old bicycle, which gives me added speed and
inaccessibility; sometimes I do not.
Yet every time I make that decision, one
way or the other, I am overwhelmed by the
responsibility inherent in my choice. I con-
sider the consequences-will I be attacked?
scared'? Will I feel like a second-class hu-
man being? an obligation? - and I consider
how to explain - defend - my decision.
I am only one woman, acting for myself,
but I feel as though my choice is about more
than just me.
Perhaps it's because I know that while I
am making my decision, others are strug-
gling with the same type of question across
the globe.
Perhaps I want my decision to be the
right one for them as well.
Or perhaps I merely feel that as a woman
who identifies herself as a feminist, who
tries to play a role in the restructuring of our
society, that I have more of an obligation to
make the right decision each time it grows
It's an unrealistic expectation, I know.
Sometimes I'd rather not think about it
at all.
But then, inevitably, it grows dark.
-Judith Kafka is an RC senior. She can
be reached over e-mail at
jkafka@umich. edt(.


Mooai~s ILEA~

1 _ -- ,.._

ct>? 57%/luISIPLY WANT


'Either this Is a
university that
pays for its basic
mission or it's a
place that just
takes money from
people and just
uses it as it
-Jonathan Friendly,
director of the master's
program in, journalism
and plaintiff in a lawsuit
against the University

Senate shouldn't bankrupt worthy program


President Clinton's national service pro-
gram, AmeriCorps, suffered a major set-
back Monday when a Senate appropriations
subcommittee voted to "zero out" program
funding for the next fiscal year. While reduc-
ing the budget deficit is an important na-
tional priority, Congress should spare this
fledgling program from budget cuts.
AmeriCorps was launched in 1993 with
some bipartisan support. Since then it has
allowed 20,000 young people to work for
nonprofit agencies and organizations in an
effort to promote a renewed American spirit
of volunteerism. In exchange, the program
provides them with a minimum wage and a
college grant of $4,725 for each year of
service. In a day and age when many young
people grow into adulthood with a diminish-
ing sense of obligation to their community,
AmeriCorps emphasizes the mutual benefits
of community service. It encourages young
Americans to bring about personal and soci-
etal change through helping others. In the
words of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.):
"National service is not just another social
program, but really should be part of a social
movement aimed at ... rekindling the habits
that made our country great by neighbor
helping neighbor."
Furthermore, AmeriCorps has provided
essential financial assistance to thousands of
would-be college students. It has helped to
offset annual tuition hikes, rising textbook
costs and an increasing burden on individu-
als who are paying back student loans well
into their post-collegiate lives. For strug-
gling students, AmeriCorps provides another
option to defray the costs of attending col-

lege. It is hard to imagine that financing a
college education would be any easier should
Congress also decide to hand over its student
loan programs to the private banking indus-
try, another budget-cutting idea being kicked
around Capitol Hill. Indeed, the budget ax is
descending on AmeriCorps at a time when
many high-school graduates simply find tu-
ition too expensive to shoulder.
Finally, AmeriCorps has hardly had a
chance to prove its merits to the Ameican
people. It has been in existence for two years
- a relatively brief period of time for a
program of this nature. To a Republican-
controlled Congress that is preaching the
need for a slimmer budget, it hardly seems
sensible to cut a $454 million program that -
once off the ground - is supposed to save
federal dollars through contributions from
the private sector. Is the new majority party
in Congress opposing AmeriCorps because it
is a creation of the Clinton administration?
Congress' defunding of AmerCorps in its
infancy smells of party politics, not sound
fiscal policy.
A slim chance remains that Congress will
restore AmeriCorps funding in either Appro-
priations Committee meetings this week or
by amendment on the Senate floor in the near
future. Americans might be better served if
Congress refocused its budget cuts toward
the deep and plentiful pork barrel and tar-
geted items such as corporate subsidies, which
dwarf the AmeriCorps budget. While reduc-
ing the budget deficit should be at the fore-
front of congressional priorities, eliminating
an untested, well-conceived policy like
AmeriCorps would be a mistake.

A tree is not a
human being
To the Daily:
I was reading the front page of
the Daily last Friday (9/8/95)
when I came across an article
titled "Construction takes tree's
life." I had to laugh when i read
the ensuing article. There was
one quote from a student who
was insulted because the tree was
cut down in front of students.
Should a tree be shielded from
public view when cut down (a
huge curtain perhaps)? There
were also close-ups of the tree
This article seemed to treat
the "death" of a tree in the same
way it would treat the death of a
human being. I do not believe
that this event deserved a front
page story. Remember, it was a
plant that was cut down, not a
Mark West
Engineering senior
bill imperils
To the Daily:
Last week the Republican as-
sault on environmental protec-
tion in the United States reached
a new milestone of cynicism as
Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and
Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) un-
veiled H.B. 2275, a proposal to
gut the Endangered Species Act.
Young, with intimate ties to min-
ing and timber interests (includ-
ing stock holdings in companies
who will profit from ESA evis-

publicans), mineral development
rights threatening the integrity of
Yellowstone are being sold to
foreign corporations for as little
as $2.50 an acre.
Equally costly to the taxpayer
is the prospect of oil drilling in
the pristine Arctic National Wild-
life Refuge - a pork-barrel pet
of Young and other oil-industry
PAC recipients. So transparent a
corporate giveaway is ANWR
drilling that even Newt Gingrich
once referred to this outrageous
scheme as a "30-day quick fix for
America's energy needs," at the
price of our last great Arctic wil-
The introduction of H.B. 2275
is a capstone to the scorched-
earth policy maintained by the
Republican Congress with respect
to environmental legislation. For
25 years, laws like the ESA have
been effective in safeguarding
human health and local econo-
mies as well as fostering the re-
turn of the bald eagle, the per-
egrine falcon and other species.
Federal protection for salmon, for
instance, has helped preserve the
resource as well as sustain fish-
ing communities in the North-
west. The endangered Pacific yew
has yielded the drug Taxol, effec-
tive in restoring health to thou-
sands of cancer victims.
Unfortunately, those of us in
southeastern Michigan cannot
rely upon our legislators to battle
against further compromise ofour
environmental quality. Rep. Dick
Crysler and Sen. Spencer
Abraham possess despicable vot-
ing records on the environment,
maintaining an embarrassing fe-
alty to corporate lobbyists and
party ideologues unrelenting in
their quest to turn back the clock
25 years or more of environmen-

Eliminate foreign language
requirement, not pass/fail

To the Daily:
This semester marks the first
time that students will be denied
the opportunity to take their fourth
semester language requirement on
a pass/fail basis. The reason for
this is what Associate Dean
Michael Martin called "the poi-
soning of the language learning
environment" by the pass/fail
option. I would argue that the real
poison is the existence of the lan-
guage requirement itself. Remov-
ing the pass/fail option acknowl-
edges that the long-standing ef-
fort to coerce students into learn-
ing a foreign language is failing.
However, it is illogical to assume
that tightening the screws further
will improve the situation. In-
stead, we should look critically at
what is really wrong with the lan-
guage learning experience at this
First, there is a definite lack of
direction. The college has never
really defined "fourth-semester
proficiency"-possibly the most
ambiguous phrase in the LSA
catalog. While secondary schools
and even state legislatures
struggle to align exit requirements
with proficiency standards ac-
cepted by language profession-
als, LSA still measures profi-
ciency by the outmoded yardstick
of "seat time." What yopi are ac-
tually able to do with the lan-
guage after sitting through 232
varies widely from department to
department and from year to year.
Second, the college refuses to
allocate the resources necessary
to do the job. While it is always
been eager to spend money on

If you come from one of the
best high schools, your language.
teacher most likely was specifi-
cally trained in language peda-
gogy and compensated in the $40-
55,000 range. If you study Span-
ish here, odds are you will en-
counter a native speaker making
less than $17,000 a year, with a
degree unrelated to language
teaching, and limited teaching
experience. This person's lack of
credentials is supposedto be over-
ridden by a corresponding lack of
autonomy in deciding what and
how to teach, and which grades to
assign. This "teacher-proof'sys-
tem is a major reason for the fail-
ure of the language requirement
to date. By contrast, in those cases
where LSA actually pays atten-
tion to student achievement -
such as in the Residential College
and the Comprehensive Studies
Program - you will find experi-
enced instructors with some au-
tonomy and salaries above food-
stamp eligibility level.
Finally, there is an inexpli-
cable lack of choice. When I was
short a few lab science credits 20
years ago, I headed for that de-
lightful class which takes you on
outings to the Botanical Gardens
- Botany 101. Organic chemis-
try would have delayed my gradu-
ation by decades. With languages,
it's 232 or nothing. There is no
choice, and thus no incentive to
make these courses attractive. We
have seen that your coerced tu-
ition dollars do not go to the lan-
guage instructor-where do they
go? How many people's jobs or

Sen. Carl Levin (D)

Sen. Spencer Abraham (R)

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