Reader not tired of ‘same old MSA,’ active debate

To the Daily:

While I respect the viewpoint and legitimacy of the University Party (Tired of same old MSA?, 02/20/03) I think that Michael MacVay and Timothy Moore miss the whole point of student government. Claiming to “know the role of our government,” they propose restricting the purview of Michigan Student Assembly debates to strictly educational matters. I personally know a number of people who feel the same way as they do, but I think that it is quite telling that most of them are not politically active and do not vote in MSA elections. Perhaps MacVay and Moore intend to capitalize on that voter base, but I doubt that they will succeed. If it is such a good idea, surely someone else must have already tried it. I believe that that segment of the student body, sizable as it is, doesn’t care enough to vote, even for those who agree with them.

While student apathy is deplorable, the situation on the ground merits a reexamination of the University Party’s assertions as to the role of MSA. Many of those who are most actively involved in the assembly are those who will be active in their adult life as well, either as members of lobbies and grassroots campaigns, or as participants in “real” government. But even those who don’t have such ambitions are clearly interested in using their time here and now to make a difference.

That is, of course, part of the argument that MacVay and Moore are making. What MSA says on these non-campus issues has no impact on the “real world.” MSA’s resolution against war on Iraq is about as likely to influence President Bush as a resolution against gravity would be to change the laws of physics. A valid point, perhaps, but irrelevant to the question of whether MSA should pass such resolutions anyway.

What is at stake here is, as noted above, the very nature of MSA. I assert that the purpose of MSA is to help the microcosm that is the University better reflect the world that we live in. Part of that reflection is dealing with issues that face the larger world. Some students achieve this through demonstrations and rallies; others never even try. The members of MSA achieve on a more intellectual level, debating the issues at hand and attempting to find a reasonable balance.

MacVay and Moore complain that such debates and resolutions promote divisiveness and threaten tolerance and understanding. They are absolutely right, but this is true at every level of government, and even of international coalitions (just look at NATO’s recent problems). It is not a reason to avoid thoughtful debate, though. Instead, it calls for active outreach and resolutions which are worded carefully and sensitively.

Never mind the fact that the student representatives do experience a large practical benefit from the skills they gain in critical thinking, debate and cooperation, all of which will serve them in good stead down the road. What MSA has to say about the war in Iraq (for instance) is important for the same reasons that people collect signatures for petitions on campaign finance reform: Grassroots campaigns at every level represent the heart and soul of democracy – the real world in which we live even at the University – even when unsuccessful.

Chaim Schramm

LSA freshman

Daily columnists wrongly prefer antics of previous pres. to slip-ups in speech

To the Daily:

Apparently, Joseph Litman is a little embarrassed by President Bush’s lack of eloquence in the public speaking department (He’s not with me, 03/04/03). In addition to mentioning several times how humiliated he is when the president stumbles over words, he basically showed utter disrespect for our leader, calling him “stupid” and an “embarrassment.”

I’ll bet Litman was absolutely fine with the antics of our previous president, though. What’s more embarrassing? A president who stumbles a little in speech, or one who receives oral sex from a 21-year-old intern in the Oval Office while talking on the phone to a member of the U. S. Congress? If you could stand the latter without humiliation, then I’m certain that you can suck it up and endure the former.

This is typical of the Daily’s lack of objectivity in its editorial page. Democrats can do no wrong to Daily columnists, but Republicans? Well, hangin’s too good for them.

Andrew Quesnelle

LSA senior

Bush presidency ‘a breath of fresh air’ in White House

To the Daily:

I wasn’t surprised to see two scathing anti-Bush articles in yesterday’s Daily. It seems like Joseph Litman (He’s not with me, 03/04/03) and Peter Cunniffe (An unbelievable foreign policy, 03/04/03) sat by adjacent computers late Monday night exchanging pleasantries and “Bushisms.” However, as much of a recurring theme this sort of free speech exists in the Daily, it tends to ignore a slight gap of apathy which occurred in the late 1990s with the Clinton era.

I tend to think Bush’s presence in the White House is a breath of fresh air compared to what we’ve experienced in the past. During the Clinton administration, we were made well aware of the apathy toward progress, as we heard no news of North Korea’s developing nuclear weapons program, terrorist cells in Afghanistan or Iraq’s continued violation of U.N. resolutions (while we were fully engaging in the oil-for-food program, nonetheless). Now, the American public is made fully aware of these threats and injustices daily; this information is no scare tactic, but merely an opportunity to make the public aware of a vast policy shift that is very much underrated and chastised.

Perhaps if we were so inclined to look beyond our already gluttonous domestic freedoms and the American ideal of a six-figure income, we’d realize that having a president who shows immediate concern for the “embetterment” of international security is much more favorable – and necessary – than one who finds himself impeached for lying to his constituents.

Matt Schaar

Engineering senior

Student opposition to U.S. government ‘a slap in the face’

To the Daily:

Returning to the University after a three-term hiatus filled me with joy this January. Having left a town and school that I loved to serve my country was heart-wrenching, nevertheless I did my duty. Many of my former instructors recall the fall semester of 2001, when I was forced to leave the University because my Air Force Reserve unit had been activated to duty following the events of that September. For nearly a year, I proudly served my country again, having completed a four-year assignment in the spring of 2000. While standing in the sands of Saudi Arabia, I could only think of returning to my friends in Ann Arbor, and the many Saturday afternoons at the Big House.

Having completed my duty, I returned to the University, and to my horror, found that my very peers are protesting against my actions. This strike that has been called for today is a slap in the face to all those who have sacrificed their life and time to defend the U.S. Constitution. While it is the very same constitution that grants students the right to protest, exactly what have you done to earn that right? Having served my country, I believe that I have earned the right to speak my mind. An overwhelming majority of the students at the University accept the right to protest as a birthright, as a citizen of the United States. Legally, they are indeed correct, but morally, what justification do they find for protesting against the government that has granted them the right to do so?

So during the strike today, please think long and hard about the many men and women who have paid a debt of their lives to protect your freedoms. When you see me on campus, please don’t thank me for serving my country, thank those that were unable to return to the things that they love.

Robert DeVore

LSA junior

The letter writer is a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force.

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