Union event shows BAMN brand of activism is ‘uncivil,
uninformed’

To the Daily,

Last year, the University’s lawyers convinced the U.S.
Supreme Court that by promoting racial diversity among the student
body, the University broadens the “marketplace of
ideas” available to campus and thus makes itself a richer
educational institution. Furthermore, they argued that because
race-conscious admissions policies serve an educational interest,
the University has the intellectual freedom to choose to employ
them. I personally find this a perfectly sensible position, and I
support affirmative action on these grounds. But Thursday night,
BAMN caused me to have second thoughts (Gratz speaks at Union
amidst massive protest
, 02/12/04).

Now, I’ve frequented the Michigan Union Reading Room for
three years and have grown all but immune to the distractions one
has to put up with reading in a public place. Thursday, however, I
was simply blown away by a demonstration BAMN was holding —
for some reason — directly outside the doors of the reading
room. This demonstration, which consisted mostly of senseless
yelling, went way beyond what any reasonable person would consider
appropriate for a defense of academic freedom. Rather than
fostering a “marketplace of ideas,” BAMN was simply
trying to yell out its political opponents, and in the process,
kept every student in the reading room from getting any work
done.

BAMN needs to realize that the University’s brand of
affirmative action is about education. Sure, social justice might
also be served by affirmative action, but in the eyes of the
Supreme Court, that’s just a lucky coincidence; it would not
be constitutional for the University to have race-conscious
admissions policies on such grounds alone. Affirmative action is
meant to be an academic asset, not a distraction, and BAMN would be
advised to know that its strategy of uncivil and uninformed
activism is only winning new supporters for the Michigan Civil
Rights Initiative every day — and if they keep up staging
nasty protests outside the Union Reading Room, I just might be the
next one.

Benjamin Dryden

LSA senior

 

SDS is an inspiration for groups seeking change

To the Daily:

Eli Segall claims that the Daily has “displayed its
profound lack of journalistic integrity,” (SDS
‘insulting’ why Nation of Islam speaker is important is
‘beyond’ reader
, 02/12/04) but where is
Segall’s integrity? I find his comments concerning Students
for a Democratic Society and Alan Haber not only insulting, but
disturbing.

First of all, Segall should get his facts right. SDS was not a
socialist group, nor did it use “violent scare
tactics.” Groups such as the Weathermen broke away from SDS,
and they used radical methods to persuade the U.S. government to
pull out of Vietnam, because protests and endless stacks of body
bags from both sides obviously weren’t getting the point
across.

Second, SDS was first and foremost a group committed to
participatory democracy, not socialism. The efforts of SDS and
similar groups have created so many benefits for our generation
that we tend to take their contributions for granted.

Third, how can you label SDS as unimportant, given that it
helped spawn the feminist movement, the anti-war movement, the
environmental movement and several other movements of the 1960s and
’70s that have had profound positive effects on our
lives?

What this campus desperately needs right now is a student group
such as SDS to harness the power of students en masse for positive
and creative change. Attitudes such as Segall’s only serve to
disempower and disconnect students from the everyday events that
seriously affect our lives.

Abdurrahman Pasha

LSA senior

SDS member

 

No link between pro-Israeli and progressive movements

To the Daily:

Samantha Woll, in her viewpoint (Strange bedfellows? Israel
activism and V-Day
, 02/12/04), does what the pro-Israeli lobby
has been attempting to do for years: link Israel and pro-Israeli
activism with progressive movements. Despite Woll’s
insistence, there is no connection. For a group like the American
Movement for Israel to call itself and its cause progressive is an
insult to the term itself.

Within the next five years, Israel will consist of a minority of
Jews ruling over a majority of Palestinian Arabs. These
Palestinians have every single aspect of their lives completely
controlled by the Israeli army. Palestinian towns are essentially
jailed in, and entrances and exits are controlled by the Israeli
Army. On a daily basis, Israel bars Palestinian men and women from
seeking proper health care, education, and income by blocking the
checkpoints that dot the West Bank and Gaza. Numerous women have
been forced to give birth at checkpoints due to the refusal of
Israeli soldiers to allow them pass through and seek medical
assistance. As a result, numerous women and their babies have died
or become severely handicapped.

So what is the link between Israel and feminism? Israeli
activists, in attempting to paint Israel in a
“progressive” light, neglect all the above. They
neglect the 70-plus United Nations resolutions Israel is currently
in violation of. They neglect the continued humiliation of
Palestinian women and men and the continued abuses of human rights
committed by the occupying Israeli army. Sure, there are plenty of
feminists within Israel. But events like AMI’s Diag ploy
aiming to link progressive causes with the Israeli cause is nothing
but an attempt to wash over the reality that is Israel: a revival
of the apartheid system. Israel has become the South Africa of
today, and groups like AMI are doing their best to divert attention
from this. AMI’s presence on the Diag on Friday will be an
insult to feminist activism and an insult to the student body as a
whole.

Salah Husseini

LSA senior

The writer is the president of the University chapter of the
Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee.

 

Housing selection process needs to slow down

To the Daily:

Kudos to the Michigan Student Assembly for addressing off-campus
housing problems (Students plan for housing advocacy,
02/12/04).

When I began to work at the University two years ago, I was
appalled to learn that students began signing leases for the
following school year as early as October.

When I was a student here in the late ’80s, we
didn’t even begin to think about where to live next year
until we returned from winter break in January. We would spend the
first few weeks of winter semester deciding who we would live with
and then start looking for an apartment or house. Most students had
leases by spring break.

Somehow over the years, greedy landlords have pushed back the
signing dates for next year’s leases. I have seen many
students stuck with bad housing situations because they were forced
to make decisions before they were ready. Freshmen, in particular,
need a semester to acclimate and get to know people before they are
ready to decide who to live with and where.

Robert Levine

Alum

Housing Dining Services employee

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