Proposal 2 deceived state’s citizens, will hurt the ‘U’

Ken Srdjak

To the Daily:

The true implications of last year’s Proposal 2 ballet initiative are only starting to become apparent. Last week, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox issued an opinion on the amendment announcing that state and local agencies can no longer negotiate to provide heath care and other same-sex domestic partner benefits to their employees. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan announced Monday morning that it had filed a lawsuit on behalf of National Pride at Work and 21 same-sex couples whose health care benefits may be in jeopardy of termination. Several of the plaintiffs are University employees.

Before Proposal 2 was passed, many proponents insisted that it would only deny same-sex couples the right to marry and would not infringe on their same-sex benefits. In fact, directly after the election, polls showed that the majority of Michigan citizens supported some form of recognition for same-sex couples. However, it is now obvious that Proposal 2’s intent was much more far reaching than the voters were led to believe.

If the attorney general’s stance prevails, not only will members of the University’s faculty and staff be harmed, but so will the students of this institution. Public agencies will no longer have the advantage of negotiating with individuals to provide equally competitive incentives as private industries will. Some of the most accomplished and talented persons will be drawn away from the public sector because the private industry will have the upper hand in compensation.

In addition, several of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit rely upon same-sex benefits in order to provide adequate care for their children or foster children. Without same-sex health partner benefits, these children, some of whom need 24-hour assistance, would be thrown back into the family services program with both parents being forced to work full time.

The citizens of the state of Michigan have been deceived and lied to with regard to the true impact of Proposal 2. It is now out of our hands — we can only hope that our courts uphold the rights and liberties afforded to us under our constitution.

Peter A. Dietrich



GSIs are critical to ‘U,’ and deserve to be compensated

To the Daily:

Graduate student instructors provide approximately 25 percent of the teaching hours at the University. These positions were not created in order to provide future professors with a “teaching internship” as asserted by Matt Nolan (GSIs must re-examine motivations for walkout, 03/22/2005). In fact, GSIs are used as teachers because they are less expensive than any other kind of instructor. If these positions were meant to provide graduate students with experience at teaching, it’s not clear why people who have no wish to teach in the future are compelled to do so in some departments. For example, psychology graduate students are required to teach for a minimum of four semesters during their graduate career.

Why would departments require its graduate students to teach, whether or not they want to? Because if graduate students were not teaching, the University would have to hire other people to do their jobs, and would anyone from outside the University agree to teach for eight months for under $14,000?

In response to other aspects of Nolan’s rhetoric, let me briefly discuss differences between graduate programs and undergraduate education. Departments with graduate programs spend money to recruit applicants to come to the University. Why? Not because they want more tuition money or cheap labor, but because they want the best scholars in their respective disciplines to help maintain the reputation of this great university. Graduate students in many departments are funded through fellowships, teaching, grants or by other means in order to make it possible for them to remain here and contribute to the intellectual milieu. Nolan may just as easily have chosen to complain that professors shouldn’t be paid salaries, because faculty are allowed the privilege of offices, research funds, Gold parking tags and free tuition for family members, while Law students and undergraduates continue to pay to study here.

Another difference between undergraduate and graduate education is that graduate students do not take classes throughout their graduate careers. Most take courses for only the first two years of their program, but continue to pay tuition for the privilege of being allowed to associate with the University’s best scholars. Many graduate students have their tuition “paid for,” some through teaching, as Nolan pointed out, and others by the means I mentioned above. “Paid for” is in quotation marks because the process is actually called a “tuition waver,” a paper transfer of fictive “dollars.”

Professional programs differ from other graduate programs in that there is rarely funding in the ways I’ve described. Students in professional programs take courses throughout their time here and can expect to earn large salaries in return for their education (Well, except for social workers!). Graduate students from academic programs are not guaranteed the kind of income that dentists, doctors and yes, lawyers, typically make. Nolan may be whining now, but he’ll be thumbing his nose at the rest of us in a few years.

Perry Silvershanz



Professor right to scrutinize questionable IDF policies

To the Daily:

In any type of media, we have all come across quotes and information taken out of context. In reading the letters to the editor, I came across one that stood out drastically — “Nadine Naber called the Israeli people ‘systematic killers of children’. ”

Let me first state that Naber, a professor, critiqued Israeli “state policies” as opposed to the “Israeli people.” She said that a great deal of evidence exists on the ways that the Israeli military has systematically killed Palestinian children, demolished Palestinian homes and targeted pregnant women at checkpoints.  

She made this point as part of a larger point that if we have reason to question whether the Israeli military upholds international human rights principles, then we should support a resolution that calls for an investigation of funds the University invests in the Israeli military. Her message was that the resolution was about academic freedom and the right to know whether the corporations in which our university invests its money uphold international human rights principals.

This attack on Naber shows clear disregard for academic honesty. Or Shotan vilifies her by misquoting her and taking her words out of context as a strategy for silencing her call for human rights and academic freedom (Campus climate troubling accepts ignorance, prejudice, 03/21/2005). By vilifying Naber, he erased the highly inflammatory and racist words of another professor who spoke against the resolution.

We do not have to look far to find  reports put out by Israeli and international human rights organization for evidence on the fact that 25 percent of all Palestinians killed  by the Israeli military are children, most of them by a shot to the head or neck — shots clearly aiming to kill.

The claims against the resolution were centered around the idea that it was aiming only to vilify Israel, a country that is in violation of more than 70 U.N. resolutions and countless human rights laws. We scrutinize and criticize the American government, the Saudi government, the Cuban government and the government of virtually every other country in the world. Why, then, can we not scrutinize in any way the Israeli government — a recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. aid per year — without being accused of spreading propaganda or being anti-Semitic?

Rama A. Salhi

LSA junior


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