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October 16, 1995 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-16

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 16, 1995
UI1r ti.i uu O it

JULIE BECKER

ON TIE RECORD

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

Sihyig awayomtihe front
in) es ofie a ortkrn debate

I

Unless otherwise noted, untsigned 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.
Sexual harssment
Complaints multiply as city neglects training

E mployees of the city of Ann Arbor have
something to learn about sexual harass-
ment - but unfortunately, city administra-
tors aren't willing to teach them.
Sexual harassment by and against city
employees has been in the public spotlight
recently - the most immediate and mon-
etarily significant case was decided within
the past two weeks. Lois McWherter, the
city's parking referee, was awarded in excess
of $250,000 for enduring two years of ha-
rassment by co-worker Dean Bowerbank.
Beginning in 1990, Bowerbank targeted
McWherter with suggestive comments and
inappropriate behavior. In response, she filed
a complaint with her supervisor, John Avendt.
McWherter's difficulties intensified when
Avendt punished her for reporting the crimes,
misreporting her job performance on evalu-
ations. Her fear of termination - validated
by the discriminatory actions of her supervi-
sor - forced her into silence for the next
three years, until she filed a formal complaint
in 1993 against both Bowerbank and Avendt.
McWherter's case is just one of 11 sexual
harassment complaints brought against the
city since January 1992. The number of cases
could be even greater if harassment victims
did not fear the intimidation and threat to job
security McWherter suffered. The fact that a
supervisor can retaliate without oversight is
a glaring signal that something is amiss in the
hierarchy of city authority. If reporting to
direct supervisors results in the same abomi-
nable victim punishment as in the McWherter
case, then confidential reporting to an
uninvolved agency is a must. Furthermore,
city administrators should not forget that
supervisors also require supervising.
There is a common cause to the decline of
employee relations and the proliferation of
harassment: the lack of harassment aware-
Not only a
Sex education shoul
As the debate over sex education rages
through the country, the North Carolina
legislature recently passed a bill requiring
public schools to teach only abstinence. Un-
der the bill, schools are prohibited from teach-
ing a comprehensive sex education curricu-
lum without a public hearing.
The reasons behind the North Carolina
decision - and similar movements through-
out the nation - are diverse and complex.
Whether on rational, moral or religious
grounds, many people are uncomfortable with
the teaching of safe sex alternatives in public
schools. While there is little conclusive evi-
dence to support either side, many propo-
nents of the abstinence-only policy believe
teaching about safe sex and making condoms
available in schools will lead to increased
sexual activity, pregnancy and sexually trans-
mitted diseases among American youth.
When schools teach abstinence as the
only option, they deny that it is just that -an
option. While unequivocally the safest choice
for the prevention of sexually transmitted
diseases and pregnancy, abstinence is not the
only choice American teens make. For those
who make the decision to become sexually
active, schools have a responsibility to teach

them ways to have safe sex that will help
prevent disease and pregnancy.
Unfortunately, for many students, public
school is the only place to get frank, reliable
information about safe sex methods and dis-
HOW TO CONTACT THEM
Ann Arbor Mayor 1
Ann Arbor
100 N. Fi

ness and training sessions. Instead of hearing
and battling case after case, the city could
encourage a much healthier and more pro-
ductive environment for its employees by
educating them. City employees have not
been offered sexual harassment education
sessions for well over a year. Only members
of the police department are offered harass-
ment education in any form, and that exists
merely as part of their mandatory annual
training. The absence of training sessions for
the rest of the city cannot be attributed to a
lack of resources - the city employs a full-
time human rights investigator, who con-
ducts training sessions but currently is not
being utilized.
The city also has hundreds of informa-
tional booklets outlining policy on sexual
harassment and the procedures for filing for-
mal and informal complaints. This literature
rests, untouched, in the boxes in which it was
received several months ago. City Personnel
Manager Robert M. Scott asserts that other
mandatory employee programs - such as
drug testing, diversity training and HIV/AIDS
education - have monopolized planning
time such that sexual harassment training has
been temporarily left by the wayside. Of the
stagnating informational booklets, he stated,
"I think we were going to take another look
at those."
Ann Arbor is not a city that lacks social
conscience - on the contrary, it has a repu-
tation for being uniquely progressive. Given
the availability of resources, and especially
in light ofthe number of recent cases, the city
is overdue for some positive action. Sexual
harassment is a relevant issue, and education
must not be lost in the shuffle. If city officials
are upset by the recent $250,000 slap on the
hand, they need only start educating - and
start slapping some hands themselves.
bstinence
I include all options
ease prevention. By blocking this avenue of
education, lawmakers force many adoles-
cents to rely on hearsay and rumors about
methods of safe sex. Worse yet, teen-agers
will practice unsafe sex because they are
unaware of the dangers of sexually transmit-
ted diseases such as AIDS.
This ignorance is not only potentially
deadly, but it is also expensive. It is cheaper
to teach students about safe sex and make
condoms available in schools than to treat
them for disease laterin life. The student who
practices unsafe sex because he or she never
learned it in school will be the one receiving
expensive treatment for AIDS in the future.
Rather than place an additional burden on the
already strained medical care system, law-
makers should ensure that students learn
about preventative measures through public
education.
One role of public schools is to educate
America's youth about the realities of soci-
ety. One of those realities is that lethal sexu-
ally transmitted diseases exist - and they
can be prevented. The best way for the schools
to fulfill their role is to present all the infor-
mation about all sexual options, from absti-
nence to methods of safety.

If society is not comfortable teaching chil-
dren about safe sex, it will have to deal with
the consequences - unwanted pregnancy
and the plague of AIDS afflicting a genera-
tion raised in ignorance.

When I was in high school, a friend of
mine got pregnant. She told me of her
condition, and what she was planning to do
about it, one day as we were waiting for class
to begin. I nodded my support and then
excused myself to the bathroom. I stayed
there for 15 minutes, until I was sure I wasn't
going to throw up.
A month later, I sat with her as she cried
in guilt.
For all the rhetoric, for all the legal terms
that have are bandied around the media, this
is really what abortion rights are about: a
woman, her choice and her conscience. In
this week's issue of The New Republic, femi-
nist writer Naomi Wolf criticizes the mod-
ern pro-choice movement for taking the
morality, the essential humanity, out of its
arguments. "Abortion should be legal; it is
sometimes even necessary," she writes.
"Sometimes the mother must be able to
decide that the fetus, in its full humanity,
must die. But it is never right or necessary to
minimize the value of the lives involved or
the sacrifice incurred in letting them go."
Wolf's words strike a chord with those of
us who are pro-choice but who, through
direct or indirect experience, can no longer
view the debate in a completely cold and
analytical framework. At 17, I thought I had
all the answers when it came to the abortion
question. I had done my reading; I had fol-
lowed events in the news and formulated my
opinions; I had even marched in Washing-
ton, D.C. I could give anyone who asked -
and sometimes those who didn't - a 15-

minute speech on the legal issues involved
and a woman's essential right to privacy. I
was walking propaganda for the National
Abortion Rights Action League.
And then my friend dropped her bomb-
shell. And I was in the school bathroom,
thinking over and over that my friend had a
baby inside her, and that the baby was going
to die.
If there is any middle ground between
those for and against abortion rights, it is that
moment: a recognition of the tragedy. In the
years since Roe vs. Wade, the two sides have
each moved further and further away from
any such recognition, at least in their public
voices. We in the pro-choice movement
couch our arguments in a legal framework,
speaking of the Bill of Rights and the issue
of "a woman's control over her own body."
In setting out our case for an opponent, how
many of us have used that phrase? How
many times? Yet in speaking theoretically
of"a woman," we obscure the women - the
ones who exercise that control every day. In
working to protect women's rights, we have
neglected women's thoughts, emotions and
struggles.
The right-to-life movement, on the other
hand, focuses its rhetoric solely on the life
being aborted. Members set up graveyards
of crosses representing all those killed by
abortion and sell items with the slogan, "If
you can read this you weren't aborted."
Waving their plastic fetuses, they go after
doctors and abortion clinics as the murder-
ers of innocent children. If they mention the

woman at all, it is as a faceless being who is
either too ignorant to understand the choice
she is making or too immoral to care. While
there are undoubtedly women who fit both
of these characterizations, there are many
more like my friend - desperate to get out
of their situation, and desperately sorry for
the way they have chosen to do so.
The right-to-life movement has little use
for people like her. Neither does the pro-
choice side, many of whom equate the ad-
mission that abortion is wrong with an attack
on the right to choose it. Yet my friend ---
who told me that she regretted her decision
and, if she had it to do over again, would act
differently - also told me that she still
considered herself pro-choice.
If only the activists on the abortion issue
could understand this, we might be able to
move closer to some sort of agreement.
While the legal debate might still rage in the
courts and the legislatures, we might come
to treat each other with some semblance of
civility. Currently, this is next to impossible
- this is an debate whose opposing sides
cannot even agree on what to call one an-
other, much less admit any validity in the
other's point of view. Yet moderate voices
might someday prevail, if we could manage
to focus not on faceless mothers and faceless
children but on real people. Real people like
my friend, real people like me.
- Julie Becker is an LSA senior and a
Daily editorial page editor. She can be
reached over e-mail atjhb@umich.edu.

,.{
,

JIM LASSESSHA
IN MY )AY,
MONEY WAS FREE! ' K
PLU /
PCy
~-.8

VIEWPOINT
Mandatory health care restricts

NOTABLE QUOTABLE
'Farrakhan is a
lightning rod for
both blacks and
whites, and he
tends to send
them in different
directions, in-
creasing black
solidarity and
white concern.'
- Andy Kohut, pollster
for Times Mirror, on one
of the organizers of today's
Million Man March in
Washington, D.C.
choice
plan in which students must prove
their insurance to be "equal or
better" to receive a refund seems
to place the burden of proof on
the wrong party -not to men-
tion the arbitrary nature of com-
paring health plans. Lastly, it is
simply no business of the Univer-
sity to mandate a health care plan
and restrict the freedom of choice
in such a personal area as health.
The proposed mandated health
care plan for students should be
attacked on both utilitarian
grounds as well as philosophical
grounds. While there is definitely
a problem with student health
care, there is no basis for a man-
dated plan - especially one that
contains no input from students.
Yet again, it seems as if the
University, along with help from
administration-loving student
leaders that sacrifice students'
rights for the sake of a personal
political agenda, are going tocash
in on 35,000 students at the Uni-
versity. This leaves students with
one course of action: Fight man-
datory health care; fight for
choice, fight for students' rights.

By Gerard Castaneda,
Jonathan Freeman
and Greg Parker
The word "mandatory" should
raise the eyebrows of any thought-
ful individual. The words "man-
datory student healthcare"'should
not only raise the eyebrows of
thoughtful individuals, but should
raise their voices as well.
The proposed mandatory stu-
dent health plan is a tragedy of
bureaucracy. It is the folly of an
administration trying to address
the problem of student health care
without input from students them-
selves - and then mandating
participation from the uninvolved
students. Government with the
consent of the governed? Not at
the University of Michigan.
For starters, statistics for un-
dergraduate student health care
at the University must be found.
Castaneda and Parker are
chair and vice-chair of the
MSA Health Issues Commis-
sion. Freeman is an LSA
representative to MSA.
Simpson
observers
miss the point
To the Daily:
I have heard this and that about
the O.J. Simpson trial but the
bottom line is that he got off and
there is nothing you or I can do
about it. Being a black man in
America, I didnotseeitasawhite
or black issue, just an issue oftwo
people who were murdered and
trying to find the killer.

Before a health-care plan of any
type should be constructed, ques-
tions concerning uninsured and
under-insured undergrads must be
answered. There are no statistics
available to justify a mandatory
health care plan for undergrads
- the plan itself recommends
further inquiry into the undergrad
health care situation. In order to
justify this plan, these statistics
are crucial.
Statistics for Rackham stu-
dents, however, are available, but
a 13-percent uninsured rate does
not provide conclusive need for a
mandated insurance. In addition,
if a significant percentage of un-
insured and under-insured stu-
dents cannot afford health care,
then forcing them to pay for health
care solves no problems. Sure,
the extra $500 a year is covered
by financial aid, but who wants to
be $2,000 more in debt after four
years of schooling? Coupled with
the state of mind of the U.S. Con-
gress, the prospect of increased
financial aid is grim indeed.
Coinciding with the lack of
substantive statistics is the lack
lies, but Marsha Clark says that
has no bearing on the case. This
man says that he has planted evi-
dence and hates blacks by calling
them the "N" word, but he has no
bearing on the case. I laugh at that
ha ha ha. Then Rosa Lopez wants
her day in the sun for the defense.
Both sides were shady and there
is no doubt about that. There was
a reasonable doubt from all the
glitz and glamour going on. No
one tried the real case and that
was the case of two people being
murdered. Trying to get fame.
Reasonable doubt - that is the

of student involvement in the
plan's construction. Students
were not consulted during the
plan's construction-which was
initiated two years ago. There
were no student forums concern-
ing the problem of student health
care. The only form of student
participation in the matter is with
Michigan Student Assembly
President Flint Wainess. Of
course, if Wainess was really in-
terested in soliciting opinion of
students, he would have let MSA
know about the proposal long
before its creator appeared at an
assembly meeting, answering the
questions of unprepared and sur-
prised assembly members. It was
only the day before the meeting
that the representatives learned
of the plan - through the Daily.
And it seems that Wainess ig-
nored the opinion of MSA's
Health Issues Commission, miss-
ing a meeting and refusing to in-
clude the commission when
speaking of the plan.
Students need to play a sig-
nificant role in administering the
plan. The idea of a health care

Headline on Daily photostory
misrepresents bowling

To the Daily:
This is in regards to the head-
line on the back page of Weekend
etc. section of 10/5/95 which read
"Sex, drugs, rock 'n' bowl."
Is this a joke? The cute little
"pun" is not funny. This is the
most disgusting headline I've seen
in a long time! What are you
trying to promote? It made me

sick to read it, and no, I'm not
some old fart party pooper. Bowl-
ing is a fun sport and has no
connection to sex and drugs.
You have misrepresented the
sport and have displayed very
poor taste.
Julianne Pinsak
Mathematical Reviews

Ingrid B. Sheldon
City Hall
fth Ave.

WHAT'S AFFECTING U THIS WEEK

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