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October 26, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-26

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 26, 1995
El1w £kbiguuOatiI4

JUDTH KAFKA

Tim~ FINE PR1n'r

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

Coporate .sponsor'k> ucheapens
vigd against domestic violence

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.
Standardized TAs
LSA-SG makes wise proposal for oversight

lthough teaching assistants are neces-
tlsary to University life, they should be
held to the same standards of merit as faculty,
and their jobs should not be automatic. This
is the point of LSA-Student Government
President Richard Bernstein's latest on-tar-
get proposal.
Dubbed the "Proposal to Improve the
Quality of Teaching Assistants," Bernstein's
suggested revisions would encourage pro-
fessors to take more responsibility for their
TAs. The plan would couple unannounced
professorial visits to discussion sections and
labs with increased emphasis on student and
professor evaluations, to provide a basis for
greater accountability and overall improve-
ment.
It remains to be seen whether Bernstein's
proposal will have an immediate or major
impact on the hiring and maintaining of TAs.
However, it is important that the LSA-SG
president has taken the initiative in address-
ing a problem administrators have largely
overlooked. This plan may not be an all-
encompassing solution to a complex prob-
lem, but it is a start.
As Bernstein has said, students should
have more influence in classroom teaching
because they are footing the tuition bill. While
the majority of TAs are competent and effec-
tive, students should not be subjected to the
few who neglect to show up for classes,
employ arbitrary grading policies or teach
completely unrelated material to pursue their
own agendas.
Unannounced classroom visits would al-
low professors to get a glimpse of the side of

the classroom they usually do not see - the
inside. The occasional professor who has no
idea what is going on in the discussion sec-
tions or labs is doing a great disservice to
students as well as TAs. Given that profes-
sors choose their TAs, they must accept
ultimate responsibility for the results of that
choice. Professors should not fall into the
role of Big Brother - rather, they should
ensure that TAs are showing up for class and
office hours and that the material being taught
in sections is relevant. The choice of teach-
ing method should be left up to the TA, but if
the information is not coming across, the
professor should step in.
In the past, one of the problems in assess-
ing TA performance has been the lack of
uniform requirements or standards. With each
department's separate set of requirements,
there is no cohesiveness or accountability
across departments. Some sort of consistent
guidelines need to be implemented.
TAs whose performances repeatedly fall
below the accepted level should be sanc-
tioned, much as TAs with consistently good
performances should be rewarded. TA as-
signments should not be based on seniority
- as many are now - but on merit. Until
now, there have been no concrete sugges-
tions about how this would be accomplished.
Bernstein's proposal is the first step in estab-
lishing greater faculty-TA-student interac-
tion across campus. LSA departments should
take it upon themselves to continue this
progress. The college should establish a con-
sistent, college-wide requirement and evalu-
ation process for all teaching assistants.

Last week I attended what was promoted
as a vigil for domestic violence victims
and survivors. At least I was under the im-
pression that the program was to honor the
memory of victims of violence, support the
survivors and educate the community about
the issues involved and the resources avail-
able.
Yet when I left the vigil, approximately
two-thirds of the way through, I wasn't so
sure what I'd just been a part of. The mean-
ing behind the vigil had been lost in corpo-
rate sponsorship and inappropriate mea
culpas, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of
many who attended.
Although representatives from SAPAC
and SAFE House were there, the vigil was
organized by a local Body Shop. The Body
Shop's national corporation devotes itself
and its employees to a different cause for one
month each year, promoting everything from
voter registration to wildlife conservation.
This year, their campaign is called "Blow
the Whistle on Violence against Women";
Body Shops across the country are provid-
ing valuable information about local re-
sources and the need for national legislation
dealing with violence against women.
The vigil was an arm of this national
campaign, and the postcards -addressed to
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and House
Speaker Newt Gingrich - that many of us
signed are being signed and mailed at Body
Shops throughout the United States. Un-
doubtedly the Body Shop has good inten-
tions in its public-service endeavors.
Yet sometimes good intentions aren't
enough, especially when dealing with a topic
as serious and sensitive as domestic vio-
lence.
First, were the raffle drawings inter-
spersed between speakers. According to
Kelly Peterson, manager of the Body Shop
at Briarwood Mall and organizer of the event,
local stores and shops approached her as
word got out about the vigil and wanted to
know how they could help. Somehow they
decided that the best answer was to have the
stores donate prizes to be raffled off, and
they used the postcards we signed as raffle
tickets. "We thought it would be an interest-

ing way to have local companies be in-
volved," Peterson told me. "The prizes were
an incentive to be at the vigil."
"Interesting" is a good way of putting it.
I find it commendable that the local compa-
nies wanted to be involved, although I am
not oblivious to the fact that good deeds such
as these are often done for the sake of public
image and that thus these companies want
their names, as well as their contributions, to
be mentioned. Yet I am certain a less "inter-
esting" and more effective method could
have been used to achieve those means.
Perhaps instead of giving away gift cer-
tificates for sandwiches, Amer's could have
been encouraged to make a donation to SAFE
House, or to provide refreshments at SAPAC
training sessions and conferences. The names
of the stores still could have been men-
tioned, but their contributions would have
been notably more valuable if directed some
other way.
In addition, not only is'the idea that those
who attended the vigil did so in the hopes of
winning free chocolate slightly offensive,
but the actual drawings and subsequent
cheers were misplaced, if not tactless, in
light of the program's stated objectives.
My second complaint with the vigil, and
the event which actually led to my - and
many others' - early departure, was an
impromptu "confessional" made by a man
who has, in his words, "struggled with do-
mestic violence."
Flute in hand, this Body Shop employee
announced that he would be a hypocrite if he
did not confess his sins before providing us
with a musical interlude. He apologized to
all the women in the audience, as well as to
a specific woman, "who will remain name-
less," for his past behavior, and advised the
men to learn how to control themselves
before they try to control anyone else.
Granted he was, as he said, extremely
nervous. Perhaps better composed, he would
have been able to construct a more lucid, less
affronting, confessional. Yet his speech was
disturbing and extremely inappropriate, re-
gardless of intent.
Reformed abusers suffer some grief, I
am sure, and I do not want to negate the

validity ofthis man's feelings. But he had no
business atoning for his sins in that forum.
Promoted as a safe and supportive environ-
ment for survivors of violence, the vigil was
not the place for the inflictors of it.
It took great courage for the women who
spoke to come forward; to be followed by a
man waving a flute and yelling about control
could not have provided much comfort or
encouragement.
If he felt the need to publicly declare his
past wrongs, the flutist should have orga-
nized a forum in which that would have been
appropriate. Perhaps a former batterer's
"speakout," for those who feel comforfable
attending, could be a step toward healing the
wounds created by domestic violence.
Declaring self-reformation before Z
crowd of survivors and their supporters was
not. ;
Although the Body Shop had no way df
knowing that his confession was in the pro-
gram, it seems demonstrative of the lack f
sensitivity that ran through this corporately
sponsored vigil.
Peterson said she chose the 18th for the
event because it coincided with a YWCA
program with which the Body Shop- was
working in conjunction. It would have made
more sense if she had worked in conjunctioni
with the University, planning the vigil td
coincide with Sexual Assault Awarenes§
Week instead of simply inviting SAPAC to
attend the Body Shop's program.
The Body Shop succeeded at drawing
attention to the issue of violence against
women, and I hope the postcard campaign
leads to increased funding for the Vio-
lence Against Women Act, as is itspur-
pose.
Yet it and other corporations need to
seriously consider what effect their actions,
well-intended or otherwise, will have on the
community they are purporting to help. Gen-
erating publicity while giving money to h
cause is not necessarily a bad thing, but if
done without an acute awareness of. the
issues involved, it can be.
-Judith Kafka can be reached over e-
mail atjkajka@umich.edu.

II --

MATT WIMSATT

MOO uE 's DILEMMAv

Abortion: Draw the line
Laws protect doctors from harassment

mericans are unlikely ever to come to a
Pconsensus on the abortion issue, but
most agree on two things: the right to per-
sonal safety, and the need for others to re-
spect private property. The Supreme Court
upheld these two integral American values
last Monday, when justices rejected an ap-
peal by California pickets arrested for parad-
ing in proximity to a doctor's'home.
The pickets argued unsuccessfully in a
lower court that local government violated
their First Amendment right to free speech by
prohibiting them from demonstrating inside
a boundary near a doctor's house. The Court
upheld a local ordinance that imposed a 300-
foot buffer zone for demonstrators who tar-
get private residences of abortion clinic phy-
sicians. Similarly, earlier this month, the
Court let stand Virginia ruling that the fed-
eral Freedom of Access to Clinical Entrances
Act does not infringe on freedom of expres-
sion or religion. The high court rejected an-
other such challenge to the law in June, and
last year it affirmed the right to sue antiabor-
tion activists as racketeers for their efforts to
prevent women, often forcefully, from enter-
ing abortion clinics. These and other
affirmations of personal freedom and the
sanctity of private property are victories for
all Americans, whether pro-choice or not.
Upholding the arrests of the California
pickets affirms the court's commitment to
personal safety. In this case, antiabortion
activists were not violent, but other doctors
have not been so lucky. Although peaceful
demonstration is legal and healthy in a de-
mocracy, when members demonstrate their
ideals through threats, bombs and cold-

blooded murder, bold precedent must be set.
At all reasonable costs, freedom of expres-
sion must not endanger the livelihood of
individuals.
Right-to-life activists' actions have
crossed a dangerous line. The 16 pickets who
marchedthrough the peaceful San Jose neigh-
borhood where an abortion doctor lived car-
ried signs that made clear who was the sub-
ject of their protest and where he lived. No
one should be subjected to such flagrant
slander, as the Supreme Court fortunately
recognizes. Lawmakers in Michigan and else-
where considering ordinances protecting the
doctors' rights should realize this as well.
In response to the Supreme Court's deci-
sion, states and communities need to address
Americans' concerns by creating and enforc-
ing laws similar to the California ordinance
that brought the issue to light. The American
Civil Liberties Union and concerned citizens
have testified on numerous occasions to the
need for these laws. Citizens must be pro-
tected from the actions of groups that do not
share their views. Although it is demoraliz-
ing to find a 300-foot residence area buffer
needed to protect Americans from one an-
other, in light of several incidents, this buffer
has become a practical necessity.
Although these laws are intended to pro-
tect people's well-being, they must be clear
enough not to cross over into Americans'
right to expression and assembly. The recent
actions of the Supreme Court have set a
boundary activists must not cross - rather,
they should recognize this border, and allow
citizens to live normal, peaceful lives pro-
tected from the actions of opposition groups.

I ANTI -bGK.
,foUSAl)
- z:H z
1 /

NOTABLE QUOTARLE
'Let's shake our
pointer fingers ari
say, "No! No!"'
- The new "Toddler'
Bible" version ofAda'
and Eve contemplating
the evil appl

LETTERS

Daily cartoon
belittles unity
at D.C. march
To the Daily:
In the Oct. 17, 1995 issue of
the Daily, a cartoon was printed
that I found quite disturbing. The
cartoon by Matt Wimsatt,
"Mookie's Dilemma," portrayed
Louis Farrakhan with flames be-
hind him which formed two horns
on his head (depicting Mr.
Farrakhan as a devil). In the back-
ground, burning in the flames
were the words "King Legacy."
Mr. Farrakhan as a devil?
Regardless of whether you dis-
agree with Farrakhan's beliefs,
there is no reason to make the
greatest event ofthis decade seem
like it was the evil product of a
devil. And is the legacy of Dr.
Martin Luther King being de-
stroyed? The mere suggestion is
ludicrous. Dr. King dreamed of
harmony between the races. Be-
fore this can be achieved, har-
mony needs to be reached within
in our race and that's what Mr.
Farrakhan was striving for on Oct.
16. Dr. King's legacy is not dy-

with one little cartoon what you
have managed to do is down-
grade the significance of one of
the most spectacular events in
African American history. What
you have managed to do is
trivialize the efforts of African
American men all over the coun-
try. What you have managed to
do is a travesty.
Denise R. James
LSA junior
Daily ignores
disturbing
upswing in
campus crime
To the Daily,
I just wanted to comment on
the reporting (or lack thereof) of
crime on campus. I don't know if
you request the information from
the Department of Public Safety,
or if they release it to you. Either
way, I am disappointed. I was not
really aware of the frequency of
car thefts on campus, but appar-
ently it is a common crime.
It was brought to my attention
after my new Jeep Cherokee (I

be able to use? I'm sorry, but a
ride home from DPS and a "sorry
about your luck" will not make
up foran $18,000 loss and a month
of inconvenience. And I am sure
that I am not the only one this has
happened to. Why are these inci-
dents kept a secret?
Adrian Vicko
Engineering senior
MSA leaders
abuse fiscal
authority
To the Daily:
Being a former communica-
tions chair and LSA representa-
tive to the Michigan Student As-
sembly, I wish to take issue with
the fiscally irresponsible actions
of the assembly last week. Last
Tuesday evening, the assembly
approved an allocation to cover
money that was illegally spent by
three members of the MSA fam-
ily to go to Washington, D.C.
This money totaled near $1,000,
and yet a simple slap on the wrist
seemed to more than 'satisfy the
assembly.

tration, I would hate to see sA
relations crumble again due
assembly officials who are irr
sponsible with the power a
money that is entrusted to tho
by the students they represent.
This is further illustrated]
last Tuesday night's action to'r
move funding caps, whereby o1
student group received an allot
tion of almost 10 percent of t
entire budget allocated for all ti
student groups for the entire ye
Not only that, but the group
reapply for funding in the wint
term. I'll be the first person
admit that I don't agree with t
political goals ofthis group. Hoa
ever, this isn't about politics,b
rather fiscal responsibility.
Rules were established wi
funding caps, which were al
thrown out at Tuesday's meetir
This allocation exceeded themc
generous caps that have ever e
isted by more than $4,000. T
group's project definitely d
served "large project grant" si
tus, which during the reign ofc
rules was the highest possible
location available. However, wi
more than 300 student groups re
istered each year, no single gro
deserves between 8 and 10 p
rn f the total biichyetl fni

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