’60s activism should be a role model, not a specter
To the Daily:
Whitney Dibo’s heart is in the right place (Out from under the ’60s shadow, 01/18/2007). That she – like many other students – is grappling with questions about the form and utility of a student movement. A broader political coalition opposing the war in Iraq is an important thing, but her dramatically oversimplified and misunderstood characterization of the new Left and the student movement of the 1960s and 1970s obscures the lessons we can take from them.
The hippies and disaffected children of privilege weren’t the ones who grew up, forgot their values and elected Ronald Reagan. The working class rejected the Democratic party after recession and stagflation. Along with members of the middle class who espoused individualism rather than collective welfare, it crossed over to the Republican party.
The most significant student organization of the 1960s, Students for a Democratic Society, was founded in Ann Arbor by a student at the University. Over the course of the decade, members of the new Left movement promoted civil rights in the South, worked in urban ghettoes in the North, successfully opposed and obstructed war research here at the University as well as around the country and promoted economic and racial equality on a number of fronts, including a massive rent strike in Ann Arbor in 1969. Rather than trying to shake their legacy, we should emulate their enduring values and learn from their mistakes. Thousands of lives could depend on it.
Diversity on playing field poor analogy for diversity in class
To the Daily:
I am appalled by Sabrina Valenti’s letter to the editor (Diversity at the University should extend to all parts of campus, 01/18/2007) lamenting that diversity of sports teams is treated differently than the diversity of intellectual thoughts and experiences. Ironically, in her example she only measured diversity by race, clearly failing to recognize that sports teams are diverse. Following her logic, a sports recruiter only looks at talent, but in reality, a recruiter looks at a combination of talent, drive and potential, among other things. The University has never admitted a student solely upon race and gender but through a combination of characteristics.
Contrary to Valenti’s view, race and gender change thoughts, experiences and talents. It’s sad that she has only learned about diversity from “friends who went to private schools, had different religious backgrounds or grew up in different states.” I learned about diversity at the University, where I learned from my friends, including those who went to non-traditional or foreign schools or grew up not only in different states but in different parts of the world.
I suggest everyone attend a museum showing of “Boxes and Walls” from Jan. 22 to 28. Those who think they are diverse may experience a new prejudice and discrimination first-hand and learn something new about the social identity of minorities.
Wal-Mart is bad for small businesses; bring in Target
To the Daily:
Once again I find it necessary to rebuke one of John Stiglich’s outlandish claims. In his column this week (The Bank of Wal-Mart, 01/17/2007), he claims Wal-Mart is an American success story. Correction: Wal-Mart crushes American success stories. It puts even the most successful local stores out of business through abusive pricing schemes and forces the population of backwoods Arkansas to purchase generic low-quality products.
So what about those ground breaking business methods Wal-Mart came up with? You must mean the ones where it didn’t let anyone work full-time (not even managers) so it wouldn’t have to pay overtime. And how about the discriminatory hiring practices?
By the way, Target sells higher-quality products and organizes volunteer work in the community, whereas Wal-Mart screws over employees and destroys communities. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation would do well to deny Wal-Mart its own bank.
Students entitlement on display in theft of plastic-ware
To the Daily:
Waiting for my order at Beanster’s cafe in the League yesterday, I observed some fascinating behavior. A young woman, getting her plastic-ware, grabbed a large bundle of spoons and forks, so large that some of them fell from her grasp. My first thought was how nice it was of her to get plastic-ware for the rest of her party. Her friend uttered a remark hinting at disdain, to which the young woman answered, “I don’t care, I’m paying 40 grand here.” I was not aware that University tuition included utensils from local eateries. Watch out local restaurants, entitlement is alive and well here on campus.
Textbook prices are not as bad as tuition and student fees
To the Daily:
The Daily’s recent editorial (Well Read but Broke, 01/17/2007) failed to provide an accurate understanding of the changing nature of today’s college textbooks. Publishers are sympathetic to students’ concerns about the cost of textbooks and offer a range of options from which faculty can choose for their courses. For example, there are 216 introductory psychology titles currently on sale in college bookstores around the country at retail prices ranging from $23.44 to $120.54. These alternatives – in addition to a new and expanding range of technologies – are helping more students pass their courses, stay in school and graduate sooner, saving them time and money while improving their success rates. In fact, textbook prices, which account for less than 5 percent of the core higher education expenses for the average four-year student, are not rising as fast as other higher education costs, like tuition and student fees.
According to Student Monitor, a student research service, the average college student spent $644 on textbooks during the 2005-2006 academic year, a cost that has remained generally steady for the past three years. As the cost of higher education escalates, America’s publishers are helping students get the most out of their tuition dollars by responding to changing needs. Contrary to the perception created by the editorial, today’s college textbooks may be among the best long-term investments a student can make.
Stacy Scarazzo Skelly
The letter writer is an assistant director for the Higher Education Association of American Publishers