The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, November 04, 1991, Page 4, Image 4

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Opinion
Visions of change
Spanier lists specifics in opening speech
Clearly, Graham Spanier sees education as an em
powering force for societal change.
“Education is society’s mechanism for turning
despair into hope, for raising the social consciousness of
the community, for altering the course of families, for
turning poverty into wealth, and for improving the quality
of life,” he said Friday in an address at the Lied Center for
Performing Arts.
Spanier said he intends to carry out that vision as the
new chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
He said he would implement administrative reforms,
make affirmative action a priority and be responsive to
student needs and services. He said the university would
strive toward greater sensitivity and awareness of cultural
diversity under his leadership.
It’s not clear how Spanier intends to enact all of his
ideas. UNL administrators have spoken for years of trying
to increase understanding of other ethnic and racial
groups. Recently, they also have spoken of trying to
improve the climate for women faculty members.
Perhaps the real difficulty in achieving a more positive
environment for diverse groups in Nebraska is not lack of
concern but simply the fact that the state is predominantly
white.
Spanier comes to Nebraska touting his success in
dealing with these issues in Oregon, another state that has
a small non-white population. If as provost at Oregon
State University he discovered a formula that works, UNL
could benefit from his leadership.
Part of the Spanier plan apparently is a stepped-up
affirmative action program. University officials must
guard against the potential abuses of such a policy, which
could result in tacit acceptance of a quota system.
On other issues of student interest, Spanier spoke in
alternately broad and specific terms.
He was critical of the budget-cutting process, saying, “1
did not want to be here even one day without saying that I
have been disturbed by the divisive, adversarial nature of
the budget discussions of the last few weeks. This is no
way to govern a university.”
He stressed the need for a long-term view in making
budget decisions. But he did not say how such an outlook
would apply to the cuts that must be made. He did, how
ever, promise to address the budget situation specifically
soon.
As most underclass students register for next semester’s
classes, they should be heartened by Spanier’s interest in
improving UNL’s student information system.
University administrators have tried to get funding
approved for a new system, which could include conven
iences such as class registration by touch-tone telephone.
The proposal has not been financed yet, however.
Spanier’s support could change that.
Students should be less pleased by some of Spanier’s
proposed changes in UNL’s administrative structure.
One of his plans is to hire a dean of graduate studies
separate of the vice chancellor for research, who currently
fills both posts. The last thing the university needs during
a time of budget cuts is another highly paid administrator.
On the other hand, Spanier said he would bring the
presidents of the Academic Senate and the Association of
Students of the University of Nebraska into his cabinet.
That move promises to bring needed student and faculty
input into the decision-making process.
In some ways, Spanier has come in as the academic
version of Bob Kerrey: bold, outgoing and with a few
ideas that could leave Nebraskans scratching their heads.
On the whole, however, he represents needed change.
As UNL struggles to do more with less, Spanier’s vision
and ideas will be put to the test.
— E.F.P.
Mascot ills not exclusive
American Indians arc not the only
ethnic group to suffer from the nega
tive stereotypes that athletic teams’
mascots encourage.
Look at the NFL’s Minnesota
Vikings. *fhat is a pro football team
named after Northern European bar
barians from the dark ages. I auto
matically assume that all people from
Minnesota are wild savages who for
fun invade Iowa and Canada to plun
der and pillage.
Even closer to home, 1 resent our
own mascot, Herbie Husker. When I
was in the Army, and when I attended
law school in another state, everyone
there assumed that all Nebraskans
were big, dumb, long-haired rednecks
who wore only bib overalls.
It is time that the news organiza
tions devote as much time explaining
the plight of Minnesotans and Ne
braskans as they have so far to Ameri
can Indians regarding such a serious
problem as sports mascots.
Stanford Sipple
Lincoln
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JAMES ZANK
Latest discrimination intolerable
How long is discrimination al
lowed to go on? People at the
University of Nebraska-Lin
coln have responded quickly in the
past when flagrant incidents of dis
crimination occur.
Hundreds of people filled Broyhill
Plaza two years ago when flyers for a
white-supremacist student group
appeared on campus.
Sales of a fraternity T-shirt were
stopped several years ago because the
subject matter was deemed offensive
to people of color.
Committees of students and fac
ulty members arc gathered to deal
with the problems facing minority
students.
But people of different sexual ori
entation are still discriminated against
by the ROTC program.
Last week, the Association of
Students of the University of Nebraska
senate passed a resolution that sup
ports keeping ROTC on campus,
despite a Department of Defense policy
lhat bans gays, lesbians and bisexuals
from becoming commissioned offi
cers.. ...
The measure asks the Academic
Senate to repeal part of a resolution it
passed last spring that urges the chan
cellor to renegotiate ROTC contracts
if the discriminatory policy is not
changed.
Steve Thomlison, speaker of the
senate, supported the bill on the basis
that canceling contracts with ROTC
would discriminate against students
trying to cam degrees though the ROTC
program.
Certainly many students would be
hurt if ROTC was removed from the
campus. Too bad.
I strongly doubt that Thomlison
would be as apt to argue this point if
ROTC discriminated against blacks
or women. Both these groups have
gained far too much political accep
tance to have to put up with such
obvious discrimination in this day
and age.
It’s odd that the Department of
Defense has discriminated against both
these groups in the past. This has only
changed because people challenged
the discriminatory policies.
The sponsor of the bill. Sen. Pat
Jilek, indicated that he was concerned
that by using the contracts with ROTC
as leverage, students would be forced
Certainly mam stu
dents would bk ban i£
ROTC was removed
from the campus. Too
bad,
into a very difficult position. They
would be denied the benefits of a
program whose policies students don’t
control.
What better motivation for these
students to force a policy change from
within the Department of Defense,
than to know their education may
depend on it.
ROTC isn’t the only military-based
option for education.
Going into regular military serv
ice can provide some education op
portunities. Students could find op
tions other than ROTC to help pay for
school.
The policies of this university
regarding discrimination are clear on
the point of sexual orientation.
AS UN’s approval of the bill is a
slap in the face to the university. It
mocks the ideals that guide this insti
tution. Jilek and Thomlison appear
far more interested with the condemna
tion of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals
than protecting their rights.
Jilek suggested that ASUN should
consider starting a letter-writing
campaign and lobbying the legisla
ture to deal with discrimination on a
national level.
It ought to be more than a consid
eration. ASUN must make a letter
writing campaign to change this pol
icy a priority. The ROTC policy should
be the biggest item ASUN lobbies in
the Nebraska Legislature next ses
sion.
Personally 1 don’t believe either
will happen. This form of discrimina
tion is a touchy subject that few are
willing to confront.
Because of the predominance of
Christian doctrine in the Midwest,
the issue becomes morally charged.
People of different sexual orienta
tions are looked down upon, shunned {
as sinners.
I’ve seen this phenomenon many
times in my college career. It fright
ens me.
I observed an incident in a class
during the debate over the financing
of the Committee Offering Lesbian
and Gay Events several years ago.
One day before class began, a woman
was telling a few members of the
class about the weekend of activities
that she had helped organize for the
Christian student group she belonged
to.
Moments later, the issue of CO
LAGE funding was brought up. The
woman became livid with rage.
“I think all the gays in the world
should be lined up against a wall and
shot,” she said.
Such a good Christian altitude. I
hope that the woman was an extreme
case, but listening to some people, I
often wonder.
This needn’t be such a problem for
Christians.
Believing in the Christian God also
entails believing that God is just and
that God will determine the final
judgment of all people’s souls. It is
not the prerogative of Christians to
judge the moral character of other
people.
Looking at this issue of discrimi
nation, people should consider the
Golden Rule. If people arc being treated
unjustly, regardless of their moral
condition, Christians have an obliga
tion to oppose the injustice.
Whereas the Academic Senate’s
resolution has teeth, ASUN’s vote
Wednesday seeks to gum the ROTC
program into submission.
If there are going to be rules pro
tecting the rights of people at this
university, if efforts arc going to be
made to keep the university environ
ment conducive to education, then
the blatant prejudice of the Depart
ment of Defense must be challenged
through every means available.
Zank Is a Junior art and English major
and a Daily Nebraskan columnist.
The Daily Nebraskan welcomes
brief letters to the editor from all
readers and interested others.
Readers also are welcome to sub
mit material as guest opinions.
- LETTER POLICY
Whether material should run as a let
ter or guest opinion, or not to run, is
left to the editor’s discretion.
Anonymous submissions will not
be considered for publication. Let
ters should include the autnor s
name, year in school, major and
group affiliation, if any.
Submit material to the Daily Ne
braskan, 34 Nebraska Union, 1400 K
St., Lincoln, Neb. 68588-0448.