To the Daily:
Lawsuit fails to represent climate at Law School
In the Daily’s recent coverage of the lawsuit brought by Wayne State Law School Prof. Peter Hammer, we feel that the University’s Law School and its commitment to diversity – in particular to the LGBT community – were misrepresented. As Law School students, we have found students, faculty, administration and the larger community to be welcoming and accepting of people of all sexual orientations. The faculty and administration are very supportive of our LGBT student organization, Outlaws, and it is our understanding that the Law School is actively recruiting both LGBT students and faculty as part of its commitment to diversity. We feel the coverage of the Hammer lawsuit has not given adequate attention to the LGBT-friendly climate at the Law School.
More importantly, the coverage of this lawsuit has been largely one-sided and misleading. The University and Law School’s policy of not commenting on ongoing litigation notwithstanding, the reporting was sloppy in its unchallenged presentation of the allegations in Hammer’s pleadings. At this stage in the litigation none of the facts alleged have been proven. Instead, the judge is ruling on whether as a matter of law the University should prevail even if all the facts are given all permissible inferences in favor of Hammer’s allegations. The articles on the case made it seem as if Hammer’s allegations are fact rather than assertions, and as such painted the Law School as an unwelcoming place for LGBT people.
While we would, of course, be outraged if it comes to pass that Hammer was discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, we have no way of knowing – and neither does the Daily. We would appreciate the Daily presenting a fair account of the situation at this institution, a Law School that we chose to attend because of its diverse reputation and welcoming climate for LGBT people.
Mary Elizabeth Hanna-Weir and Jordan Long
The letter writers are co-chairs of Outlaws.
Higher pay might not yield better educators
Last week, I read a sign promising me that better-paid graduate student instructors yield better education. I wonder if it’s true.
The Graduate Employees’ Organization clearly knows how important GSIs are to an undergraduate education or else it would not believe a two-day walkout would be successful. Yet, I’m not sure more pay will actually make GSIs into educators. After all, teaching is a profession, not just a temporary job used to pay the bills during graduate school. Would more pay mean that GSIs would come to section with a prepared lesson, buy a book on teaching methods or sacrifice their course work in order to focus on mine? Would more pay really change anything for undergraduates?
I do believe that GEO deserves many of its requested concessions. Asking students from Michigan – home of the auto industry and the United Auto Workers – not to cross a picket line is a demand for respect. Many of us grew up knowing that a union is an important part of our society, and that we should always support the workers. I know that I will not be able to cross a picket line.
I just hope that after I stay home, putting graduate students’ demands ahead of my education, they will fulfill their promises. I hope that they will consider their teaching position to be as important as their graduate classes and put a proportionate amount of time and energy into it. I hope they will realize that even though teaching, for most of them, is just a temporary position it still decides the value of my education.
School of Education junior
GEO walkout punishes students, not University
According to the Daily’s news story, many GSIs aren’t holding classes, office hours, review sessions or answering e-mails during their two-day walkout (Negotiations fail, GEO set for walkout, 03/25/2008). Exactly whom are the graduate student instructors striking against?
The University isn’t pushing back exam dates, and all of the work missed by GSIs during the walkout will still have to be done before exams. From the University’s perspective, the work outage doesn’t accomplish anything – how else could the University afford a walkout by the Graduate Employees’ Organization every three years?
The only thing that GSIs are accomplishing is negatively affecting my education. Because of their issue with the University, I can’t go to class, get my questions answered or get help. I am paying a lot of tuition money to go to class, and can’t afford to let somebody else’s strife with the University affect my education.
To GEO: Your beef is with the University, not with students. Find a productive way to come to terms with the University that doesn’t put the students in the middle.
Self-segregation defeats purpose of diverse ‘U’
I really enjoyed reading Shakira Smiler’s column Friday about the challenges of dating someone with different religious views and the continued prevalence of people who believe that interfaith dating is inappropriate (Guess who’s coming to dinner, 03/21/2008). It is strange that at such a “diverse” university, such narrow-mindedness still occurs. I do not believe that the bias mentioned by Smiler solely involves religion, nor is it only apparent when considering potential dating partners.
I ask each person to look through your phone book and ask how many people of a different religion or race are in it. Take a look at your Facebook profile – how many people of a different ethnicity wrote on your wall? Chances are that most people have a significantly low number of friends from different races.
We should all take pride in knowing we attend a university where 25 percent of undergraduates are ethnic minorities. But in reality, this number is insignificant if your friends share the same ethnicity or religion as you. Although the University is considered to be “diverse,” it is still segregated. In order to reap the benefits of diversity, we must work towards integrating ourselves.
For strong protest, GEO needs union solidarity
When discussing the two-day walkout by the Graduate Employees’ Organization, solidarity is a major theme. GEO members ask for it from faculty and undergraduates (which is hard when physics professors, for example, require attendance in labs and discussions), saying that the one way that we can support them is by not crossing picket lines. However, it seems that before they can ask this from the people affected by the strike, they must ask it from themselves.
Two of my classes with discussions and office hours led by graduate student instructors held class as usual, justifying the decision by explaining that this strike is illegal by state law. I don’t know the details of the law, but I know that a successful walkout occurs when the employees form a solid front against their employer. I believe workers have the right to strike when a compromise can’t be reached. I also believe that strikebreakers who reap the eventual benefits of a strike without participating in the strike are incredibly hypocritical.
In the future, I would suggest more cohesion between union members when this sort of action happens. Those who don’t get the message weaken a potentially strong signal to the University.